Aussies prefer personal touch for business, govt service


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 30 March, 2016


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Australians prefer conducting customer service interactions in person or over the phone rather than online while communicating with both businesses and government organisations, two separate studies indicate.

Research from Accenture shows that Australian businesses are losing customers by failing to meet demand for human interaction in customer service.

Accenture Strategy’s annual Global Consumer Pulse report shows that 55% of Australian consumers have switched provider in the past year due to poor customer service, resulting in an estimated $122 billion in lost business.

The study shows that even in the digital age, 81% of Australian consumers still prefer dealing with human beings rather than digital channels to solve customer service issues. A similar percentage state that it is extremely frustrating dealing with a company that does not make customer service easy or convenient.

Some 83% of those who have switched services feel that there is something companies could have done to retain them, and 76% report that if companies can provide better live or in-person customer service it would impact the decision whether to switch provider.

Nearly half (48%) of Australian consumers are even willing to pay more for goods and services if it ensures a better level of service.

Accenture Managing Director for Strategy in Australia and New Zealand Luca Martini commented that the research shows that Australian businesses have reached a “tipping point in their customer’s digital intensity”.

He said businesses “need to rebalance their digital and traditional customer service investments if they want to improve loyalty, differentiate themselves and drive growth”.

Organisations looking to improve the customer experience should consider putting the human and physical elements back into customer services, make it easy for customers to switch channels at will and identify and eliminate the most negative experiences across channels.

It’s not just the private sector that needs to be aware of demand for more human interaction. Separate research from Unisys shows that 65% of Australians prefer dealing with the government in person (40%) or by phone (25%).

The main reasons given for preferring interactions with real people include the ability to have their questions answered while they talk (70%) and feeling more comfortable talking to a real person (69%).

By comparison, just 29% favour online contact, although younger Australians indicate a greater willingness to engage with government through digital channels.

Those who prefer online channels feel the main benefits are 24x7 availability and lack of queues. Use of websites is vastly preferred over mobile apps, with some states showing relatively more support for mobile apps to interact with government than others.

“Such low support of online government channels is surprising given that 86% of Australian households are connected to the internet,” Unisys Asia Pacific Vice President for Public Sector Lysandra Schmutter said.

“Digital transformation is high on the agenda for government agencies as they seek to operate more efficiently and offer services to citizens in new and more effective ways. But it requires a cultural change to focus on the customer experience — not just the transaction.”

Image courtesy of CWCS Managed Hosting under CC

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