Why top customer support needs technology and humans

New research finds consumer support might take different forms but it needs to be straightforward and safe whatever the channel

Customers want phone, email and online help, plus new tools like messaging and chatbots with help from real human agents, according to BT’s Autonomous Customer 2020 research.

The latest report report found while technologies come and go, the message from customers is unchanged: Make it easy, make it secure and we will reward you.

It also argues persuading customers to trust an organisation is about developing the right processes, supported by real people with great skills.

“But it’s tough, complicated and time is short. Digital transformation is happening at speed. Consumers faced with a less-than exceptional experience will be quick to take their custom elsewhere,” the report stated.

The report is based on a survey of 6000 online consumers across 12 countries, looking at how consumers want to contact businesses throughout their customer journey. It highlights the must-have channels for 2020 and beyond. The report outlines five central trends in customer contact.


1. Person-to-person calls are still the most popular channel

In 2020, more people than ever choose to phone the contact centre and speak to an agent. More than three in four (80 per cent) Australians called a contact centre over the last 12 months, making voice calls the most used channel.

"The phone is popular because it works, especially as an escalation channel. And newer digital alternatives don’t always work as well as they should. It’s just easier to make a call instead,” said BT partner principal innovation, Dr Nicola Millard.


2. Messaging has arrived, but enterprises should proceed with caution

That doesn't mean customers aren't wanting digital channels, however. Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SMS, are such a part of everyday life, people want easy communication with banks, retailers and other organisations through them.

It doesn’t have to be the latest digital channel, either: Email still occupies second place in the Australian chart at 73 per cent, slightly more than the global average of 68 per cent. SMS communication, used by 20 per cent of Australians, is also very much alive and kicking.


3. Consumers are not using social media for contact (except as a last resort)

By contrast, social media is not a contact channel of choice. When people do use social media, it’s often as a last resort, to reinforce a complaint – and the organisation is usually quick to direct the conversation to a more private channel.

"It’s a technology that only makes sense where there’s a visual component to the interaction, like healthcare for example. We’ll see niche applications for video emerge in due course,” said Millard.


4. Identification, verification, payment: business must solve the trust problem

Consumers everywhere worry about their data and how safe it is (75 per cent in Australia). But Consumers are willing to trust new technologies: They like the idea of using voice biometrics for identification and verification.

According to BT, solving the trust issue is fundamental to giving customers a great experience online.


5. Consumers are ready to experience outbound services powered by AI

According to the report, we’ve also reached a tipping point for data-driven automation. Around the world, eight in 10 consumers, or three quarters of respondents in Australia, expected organisations to use artificial intelligence (AI) for proactive notifications that can prevent service issues.

Overall, the BT report argued people want every interaction to be engaging, personal and effortless – enjoyable, even. It says it’s important for companies and brands to understand consumers’ preferences and priorities, and how they might change throughout every twist and turn of each customer journey.

“What’s clear is that introducing one channel doesn’t displace another. The more channels you add, the more channels customers will use, sometimes juggling several simultaneously if they’re in a crisis,” said Millard.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.


Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Are you sure they wont start a platform that the cheese is white, pretty sure that is racist

Hite

New brand name for Coon Cheese revealed

Read more

Real digital transformation requires reshaping the way the business create value for customers. Achieving this requires that organization...

ravi H

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

thanks

Lillian Juliet

How Winedirect has lifted customer recency, frequency and value with a digital overhaul

Read more

Having an effective Point of Sale system implemented in your retail store can streamline the transactions and data management activities....

Sheetal Kamble

​Jurlique’s move to mobile POS set to enhance customer experience

Read more

I too am regularly surprised at how little care a large swathe of consumers take over the sharing and use of their personal data. As a m...

Catherine Stenson

Have customers really changed? - Marketing edge - CMO Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

You’re doing it wrong: Emotion doesn’t mean emotional

If you’ve been around advertising long enough, you’ve probably seen (or written) a slide which says: “They won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” But it’s wrong. Our understanding of how emotion is used in advertising has been ill informed and poorly applied.

Zac Martin

Senior planner, Ogilvy Melbourne

Why does brand execution often kill creativity?

The launch of a new brand, or indeed a rebrand, is a transformation to be greeted with fanfare. So why is it that once the brand has launched, the brand execution phase can also be the moment at which you kill its creativity?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in