NewVoiceMedia, a leading global provider of cloud technology, which helps businesses sell more, serve better and grow faster, has found that while self-help options continue to advance, 68 percent of U.S. citizens would still prefer a live agent to handle their customer service queries.

Are businesses ready to replace agents with bots?

Recent media coverage has tunneled into the chatbot developments of companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple. Many are hailing AI as the future of customer service, and companies are quickly jumping on the bandwagon, eager to deploy their own smart communication solutions. However, NewVoiceMedia’s poll of more than 1,000 U.S. citizens shows that customers may not be ready for a complete AI service overhaul.

  • 68 percent of respondents claim they would prefer to interact with a live agent rather than automated self-help (FAQs/guided support, dial directories, chatbots, etc.) when dealing with customer service
  • 9 percent prefer the self-help option and 24 percent feel they appreciate both options equally
  • Below is a breakdown of customers’ preferences for automated self-help or live agent help in different customer service situations

    Type of serviceSelf-helpLive agent
    Technical support 13% 86%
    Financial reporting 22% 56%
    Returns/cancelations 28% 60%
    Appointment booking 41% 52%
    Purchase inquiries 24% 64%
    Complaints 13% 73%
    None (Do not prefer in any of the above categories) 39% 4%
  • When asked in which areas customer service should improve, 63 percent of respondents indicated personalised service, 66 percent availability, 71 percent response time, 29 percent do-it-yourself options, 40 percent number of communication options and 3 percent none.

“It’s not that technological advancements cannot improve the customer experience. They absolutely can. But companies must first have a foundation of good support built on fundamentals that include phone functionality and in-depth customer insights,” comments Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia. “Many companies have much to improve within their existing policies and procedures. Our survey shows the number one complaint in customer service continues to be response time, and that is a simple infrastructure issue.”

Interested in learning more about how companies are working to improve the customer experience? Attend Gale’s keynote at NewVoiceMedia’s inaugural conference, Connect, on June 30.

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