Recent research by AI-first enterprise communications provider, RingCentral, has uncovered a fundamental consumer angst regarding customer service experiences. Incredibly, their study reveals that nearly one in five Brits (18%) would prefer to deal with a pest infestation at home than have to engage with a corporation's customer service team.
The research further revealed that a poor customer service experience was enough to turn consumers against a business permanently, with almost two-thirds (65%) saying they would be unlikely to return to a company that offered sub-standard customer service. This shows the significant impact customer service can have on maintaining client relationships and fostering brand loyalty.
It appears that one of the main gripes for consumers is the waiting time for an initial response from customer service departments. On average, respondents reported waiting an incredible 21 minutes before receiving an initial response. This delay, coupled with the frustrations of dealing with automated systems (53%), having to repeatedly explain an issue to different customer service representatives (42%), and general time frame to get a solution (43%), has driven customer dissatisfaction to a significant climax.
This level of dissatisfaction has reached such severity that 42% of people would prefer to forgo internet access for an hour rather than have to deal with a customer service rep from a business. Additionally, 51% would prefer to clean their bathroom, and a startling 53% would rather be without TV for the same time period than have to deal with customer service.
Given these negative consumer perceptions, the research also explored the potential benefits of AI in vastly improving customer service experiences. Respondents revealed that they would like to see AI utilised to streamline and improve customer service interactions: 35% would prefer that a single agent be enabled to access their full case history to avoid having to repeat themselves and their issue, while 34% would like to see AI used to reduce hold times for calls.
By embedding generative AI into contact centres, companies can enhance the efficiency of their customer service agents and reduce administrative tasks. This translates to agents having more time to focus on serving customers proactively and delivering valuable experiences, resulting in improved consumer satisfaction and overall positive experience.
Steve Rafferty, VP of International at RingCentral, spoke about the research's implications. He remarked, "Despite many businesses facing the need to cut costs, in the most extreme cases to avoid shutting up shop, this research shows they cannot afford to ignore customer experience and quality service. The data is clear that it's critical to customer loyalty and repeat purchases."
Rafferty also highlighted the progressive role of technology in infusing efficiency in customer service operations. "The good news for businesses is the latest advances in generative AI can solve many of the challenges our research highlights. From giving customers access to their channel of choice, to ensuring agents have the full context of that person's journey and interaction history, technology has a huge role to play and should be a cornerstone in any strategy to delivering industry-leading customer service."