April 18th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

If you’d have told me a few years ago that consumers would abandon the phone as a customer service channel, I would have told you that you were bonkers. After all, dialing the digits is the way it’s always been done.

Today, it’s no longer a surprise that customers are turning away from the phone as a means to reach customer service. In fact, a recent survey by Firstsource found that only slightly more than half (54 percent) still prefer to use the phone to resolve their customer service issues.

So what are the other half using? Increasingly, it’s Web chat. According to the Firstsource research, 38 percent of Americans often use Web chat to buy products or services, resolve customer service or technical support issues, and get answers to their product questions.

What’s more, 67 percent expect Web chat to become more widely used, with a full 69 percent saying they would use it to contact their wireless, utilities, banking, healthcare, insurance, and education providers if it was available. And, as Web chat continues to evolve, 79 percent of Americans would be interested in having a Web chat feature on their mobile phones or tablets.

According to the research, Web chat has a 91 percent satisfaction rating—much higher than calling into a contact center. Instant access to customer service representatives without having to wait on hold and the fact that it’s readily available, often 24/7, were cited as the most important benefits of using Web chat.

So it behooves companies to provide Web chat  as a way to transform their customer management processes and ultimately improve consumer satisfaction. Consumers are definitely looking for self-service options and instant engagements with companies without compromising their experience. Why not give it to them.

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