Traditional customer service from a fellow human is what customers want, rather than digital communication, according to a new report.
Source:
AAP
11 Nov 2016 - 3:58 PM 

Companies aren't listening to their customers, with the majority of bosses focused on digital communication rather than the preferred option of old school customer service, according to a new report.

Businesses are pouring investments into mobile apps, email and SMS communication, but most consumers want direct contact, says customer engagement specialist Verint Systems.

Michael Stelzer, Verint's vice president for Australia and New Zealand, said Australian companies should not be complacent in their customer investment priorities.

"While it's important for Australian companies to keep up with the current pace of innovation, there's also the matter of continued investment in the channels that work, and that are preferred by many customers," he said.

"It's about listening to the customers and making sure companies are in the position to provide a more personalised customer experience, based on what they are hearing."

Verint's report is based on interviews with 4,000 consumers in Australia and New Zealand, and close to 40 businesses.

About 87 per cent of businesses consider apps, email and SMS to be highly sought after, but only 32 per cent of those who use certain service providers favour the use of the digital channels, according to the report.

Customers want to engage with companies over the phone, in store or with an account online, showing a preference for a human element in their interactions.

Almost three quarters of customers surveyed said they don't like dealing with companies that fail to provide a phone number.

The key areas for planned investment by businesses are live chat and mobile apps, with only eight per cent planning to spend on their telephone service.

"Often the switch to digital methods is motivated by a desire to be ahead of the curve, drive workforce optimisation and workplace efficiency, although our report shows that this can come at price if not managed carefully," Mr Stelzer said.

Companies need to strike a balance between personal service and digital channels when investing in their customers, he said.

BUSINESSES DISCONNECTED FROM THEIR CUSTOMERS

* Customers want a human element in their service

* Those who receive traditional customer service are more positive towards the brand

* Complexity of the customer request heavily influences whether they choose a digital or traditional channel

* Companies aware of the importance of the human touch, yet most bosses planning to implement more digital service options

* Younger Australians driving demand for digital channels

* Successful digital customer service needs to provide a meaningful human experience