88% of Consumers Still Prefer Phone Over Online Customer Service, Survey Shows

custservDespite a proliferation of online customer service channels to choose from, consumers are still picking up the phone to resolve problems, MarketWatch reported Nov. 24.

Nice Systems’ Global Customer Experience Survey showed that 88% of consumers prefer to speak to a live representative as their first choice.

The second most popular contact method was website self-service, used by 83% of customers.

Use of nontraditional customer service channels such as social media, live chatting and smartphone apps have doubled since 2011, but have a much lower solution rate than live phone calls. Social media, for example, is successful in resolving 29% of cases; phone calls have a 68% success rate.

Of those surveyed, 73% had used multiple customer service contact methods in the preceding six months. However, consumers preferred that all methods offer live phone contact as a next step: 64% of smartphone app users, for example, wanted an integrated feature making it easy to switch to a live representative.

Landlines, Mobiles and Answering Services
The results of the survey make it clear that phone customer service offerings are still vital to maintaining customer satisfaction.

But it is unclear how businesses without large in-house customer service departments should handle calls, especially as the use of traditional office landlines is decreasing.

“It is now possible to run most, if not all, of a business from a small device such as a smartphone,” Joe McKendrick wrote in a Nov. 24 article for Forbes, noting that such devices replace both landlines and larger computing devices.

One option is to use an answering service whose operators can handle simple inquiries on their own, then forward calls to company cell phones as necessary.

And with the rise of texting and a general decrease in knowledge of phone etiquette, it’s even possible that more extensive training will be necessary for representatives who do answer the phone. “Phone rudeness is on the rise,” Dawn Ellis recently noted in an article for Business 2 Community, and “poor manners and lack of respect is resulting in profit loss for businesses nationwide.”

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