Interactions with customer service via legacy channels like email and phone have fallen by 7% in the last two years, according to new data shared with BI Intelligence from Aspect Software. This drop-off is due in part to poor customer service. According to the report findings, consumers are abandoning traditional consumer communications channels for new digital ones that are more automated. Lack of effectiveness is the main source of consumers’ frustration with traditional customer service.

This is highly problematic considering effectiveness is also the most vital component of a beneficial customer service experience. Moreover, 45% of consumers don’t care who they interact with — live agent or chatbot — as long as the service is effective, accurate, and handled quickly. Consumers prefer customer service that doesn’t require talking. Consumers have decreased contact with a representative via talking to a live agent by 10% in the past two years. And 59% of consumers would rather go through additional channels to contact customer service than have to use their voice to communicate.

Consumers are warming up to interacting with customer service via automated channels. At least 49% of all consumers contact customer service using automated channels, which include nonhuman interaction like chatbots and intelligent assistants, at least one a week. For millennials, the share is 66%. Furthermore, 33% of all consumers and 52% of millennials would like to see all of their customer service needs serviced through automated channels.

The waning efficacy of traditional channels is important to note, because poor customer service is hurting consumer retention. There’s a significant and growing proportion of consumers who have stopped doing business with a company due to bad customer service.

Fifty-four percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company due to bad service in 2017, versus 49% in 2016. However, good customer service will pay off in the long run. Sixty-eight percent of consumers reported increased activity with companies due to good customer service.

Emerging digital channels, like chatbots in messaging platforms, will help to drive customer satisfaction and improve retention. In 2017, consumers who contacted help via emerging digital channels — including text-based intelligent assistants, live chat, messaging apps, and home-based smart speakers with voice assistants — had significantly better customer service experiences than they did in 2016.

As the technology powering these emerging channels progresses, and as natural language processing improves, customer service experiences on these channels will likely grow.

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