As today’s customer demands increase pace, and correlations between customer service investment and business success become more apparent, a new report has revealed that three-quarters (75%) of UK consumers will only reach out to a customer service agent if there’s no other way to get help with a query or issue. Whereas 79% of UK respondents say they only make a phone call when it’s urgent. The results highlight consumers' reluctance to contact customer service, preferring self-service options and viewing human agents as a last resort.
Considering these results, it is unsurprising that 47% of UK consumers are already irritated when they contact customer service, and 31% assume they have to be confrontational. With this in mind, is there such a thing as a positive customer experience? And how can call centre agents keep frustrated customers on their side?
Why emotions lead customer service
In the new research report conducted by CM.com, over 7,000 customers across the globe, including the United Kingdom, the United States and The Netherlands, were surveyed. Questions delved into consumers' experiences of customer service. The results revealed that emotions lead all conversations between companies and customers, whether a tiny hiccup or a significant problem. For British brands, the top three emotions are negative during service conversations; frustration (51%), impatience (35%) and irritation (34%). Only 27% of UK consumers feel gratitude during these experiences.
These emotions led to more than one-third of global respondents being nervous about using the phone to contact a company. Younger people, ranging from 18 to 44 years, are more nervous about calling a company than their older counterparts (45+). 53% of 18-24-year-olds are nervous, compared to 29% of 45-54-year-olds.
James Matthews, Country Manager, UK & Ireland at CM.com, explained: “As we move towards the end of the year, both businesses and consumers face increasing uncertainty. With this, emotions will heighten; as we can see from the results, negative emotions will increase with customer service interactions. To ensure positive experiences, business needs to focus on three basic customer service expectations: fast, friendly, and effective. Consumers will likely find answers faster and more effectively with self-service and automation. If a human agent is still needed, these tools collect and hand over key information, so the agent is fully equipped to deal with the request, resulting in a more friendly, positive experience.”
Mind the channel
Almost half of the UK respondents (47%) are impatient, using multiple channels at the same time to get an answer faster, ranging from live chat on the website, phone, and social channels, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. A similar proportion (45%) say their state of mind at that moment informs which channel they use, reinforcing the role that emotion plays in this interaction.
James Matthews continued: “When using multiple channels, it is important to provide a consistent experience and prevent customers from receiving different answers or questions from being answered independently by multiple agents. Businesses should gather all questions from all channels in one overview. With this, customer service agents can invariably answer the question consistently across channels, ultimately saving the customer time and reducing live contact.”
Customer service and business success
As mentioned, correlations between customer service and business success are becoming more evident. Results supported this as respondents expect customer service agents to help them immediately and provide good service. The more expensive the product, the more unlikely people come back after an unsatisfying conversation with customer service. For products over £400, over half of the UK customers (64%) will walk away after a negative experience.
CM.com conducted this research in cooperation with CANDID. The online survey was carried out in October 2022, where 7078 respondents answered questions about their customer service interactions. To represent different regions of the world, the research surveyed respondents from 7 countries: the United Kingdom, the United States of America, China, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Download the full report here.