The customer service field experienced rapid changes in 2017, and a new CallVU report says this trend is prompting conflicting responses from consumers.
The study titled "Customer Service Trends and Their Effect on Fintech Businesses" analyzes the results of a cross-generational survey of contemporary customer preferences and behaviors regarding business support services, both traditional and those that rely on digital technology.
What’s the upshot?
Baby Boomers and Generation Xers continue to seek out self-service customer service options. An overwhelming majority of people in these categories (80%) say they would use visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response) services.
For businesses, moving customer services into the digital sphere means saving time and resources. Digitizing customer services also frees up staff to handle more high-value tasks.
CallVU survey respondents say they expect, "fast, personalized, and convenient customer support," which helps explain their increasing interest in self-service options. Companies are beginning to respond in turn. Consider that CallVU analysts found that customers are increasingly rating buying experience over price when it comes to purchases, and the potential financial impact is huge:
One report found that companies lost $62 billion last year due to poor customer service experiences.
Old school, new school
Despite customers’ increasing interest in advancing digital services, the majority of CallVU survey respondents (57%) say they still prefer the telephone and face-to-face interactions.
"Financial institutions are investing heavily in technological advances to improve customer service," said Ori Faran, co-founder and CEO of CallVU. "Yet surprisingly, people still use the most traditional of options: calling."
Faran added that the onus is on service providers to find creative solutions to eclectic consumer tastes. "Visual IVR is the ideal choice because it offers callers simple web-based menus that drive them to a fully digital experience in a friendly and intuitive manner," Faran said.
The study found that when customers cannot solve an issue via a digital channel on the first try, 46% call, and 34% visit a branch in-person instead of utilizing other digital channels. (Image: Provided by CallVU)
Catering strictly to consumers with traditional communications preferences can have a significant financial downside, says CallVU. Telephone and face-to-face services are expensive as they require valuable human resources, physical space and substantial time. These resources should be shifted to more "high-value services" that digital cannot handle, researchers conclude.
Maximizing search engines
The survey also found that 70% of respondents call their institutions of interest after searching for the phone number online. CallVU says this result poses an encouraging opportunity for companies to guide their customers directly from their website to digital self-services, replacing the need to place a phone call.
Two-thirds of respondents also say they would stop emailing, faxing or visiting a business’ brick and mortar location if they could safely sign and share documents via "co-browsing," or collaboration browsing. (CallVU defines co-browsing as the joint online navigation of two or more people accessing the same web page at the same time.)
This method would help eliminate the need to be physically present at a branch to sign documents, simultaneously improving customer satisfaction while reserving expensive company resources for high-value tasks.
Finally, researchers say that businesses will thrive in the coming years when they heed the consumer trends outlined in this research and invest in innovative customer service solutions. By doing so, these future-minded companies will advance their own digital transformation while improving the customers' digital experience.