Consumers, businesses at odds over customer service tech

Friday, 19 July, 2019

Consumers, businesses at odds over customer service tech

Businesses and customers appear out of sync when it comes to customer service technologies, according to new research.

The study, commissioned by Pegasystems, surveyed 12,500 people globally on their perceptions of technology’s role in customer service.

Of the 1900 business leaders surveyed, 55% said they offer omnichannel service. Within that group, 60% offered more than four channels, including online chat with a representative, a mobile or messaging app, web self-service, chatbot, co-browsing or social media.

Yet, when given the choice, consumers still preferred to access customer service over the phone (62%), via email (46%) or in person (41%).

In contrast, only 19% selected mobile app as a preferred way to access customer service, while 13% and 12% selected chatbots or social media, respectively.

Demographic data is not supplied in the report so it’s not possible to tell whether age is a factor in these results. Additionally, this appears to be a standalone report so we can’t see whether use of alternate channels is actually growing.

However, customer-facing employees and business leaders agreed that phone calls, emails and in person were the most popular channels used by customers.

Pegasystems believes this could be due to consumers’ scepticism about technology’s ability to improve customer service. According to the survey, 37% of consumers think new technology — such as chatbots, AI and automation — will improve customer service, while 50% believe it will result in no change or will impair the service.

Despite this, Pegasystems reported that 95% of business leaders plan to invest in more advanced customer service technologies such as mobile applications, social media, chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) in the next two years.

While business leaders and employees see benefits to using AI and chatbots — such as increasing response speed, improving efficiency and reducing costs — the data shows that it might not be aligned with customers’ needs.

Pegasystems added that if businesses want to take advantage of chatbots or AI, they’ll have to overcome customers’ negative perceptions of the potential value of technology and should focus instead on implementing technology to augment and improve their agents’ abilities, rather than replace them.

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