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Digital support deficiencies driving customers back to call centres


Are customer service channel preferences shifting away from digital? Inordinate online query resolution times are forcing customers back to traditional support channels as frustrations grow, according to new research. 

7th Feb 2023

A new survey has revealed that on average, UK customer service issues take nine hours to be resolved – a staggering 37 times as long as the 14.5 minutes that respondents expect it to take.

And the culprit appears to be poor online support, with customers being forced to abandon online assistance to find help from traditional channels such as the phone. 

Conducted by Yext, the research surveyed 3,000 consumers across Europe, including 1,000+ consumers in the UK, with the findings highlighting a growing resentment towards website help sections.

With 83% of Brits making at least one online purchase a month, ineffective and inadequate website support sections are failing customers and forcing them to find help elsewhere.

In fact, 82% of respondents reported that they would be likely to shop elsewhere if they experienced poor customer service.

In the past month, over half (54%) of respondents reported that they have become frustrated searching on a company’s help site.

The research breaks down the major pitfalls that customers are experiencing:

  • 42% say that help sites infrequently provide the answers they are looking for with their first search.
  • 60% see help sites being unable to understand their questions as the biggest challenge.
  • 33% experienced out-of-date or inaccurate information.
  • 26% report it being difficult to use.

These poor experiences with help pages have also led to mistrust, with 60% of those surveyed stating that they are unlikely to trust an answer from a third-party blog or website when it comes to resolving their customer service issue.

The great customer service migration

Given the failings of digital help systems, it is unsurprising that customers are looking elsewhere for support and service. The research outlines that in their frustration and disillusionment, consumers are turning to traditional methods such as phone calls and emails to get support.

40% of respondents stated that they would email the company or call customer service if they can’t find relevant information on a company’s help site, with 21% saying their next step would be to search for the answer via a search engine.

With the majority of companies focussing more and more of their CX resources and budgets on digital, if they do not make the necessary improvements to their help sections and drastically lower the query resolve times, this could lead to other areas of the customer service department being overloaded, and higher costs being accrued.

43% of consumers have been prevented from making an online purchase due to inadequate help pages.

With a growing dissatisfaction with the service they are receiving, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that failure to provide helpful online answers to customer questions could also lead to a loss of business.

Indeed, of those surveyed, nearly half (47%) of consumers say they have been prevented from making an online purchase due to the help section of the website not providing them with the information they need.

Moreover, 24% report frequently purchasing products/services from rival companies because of unhelpful search functions, and 67% believe that customer service matters just as much as product quality.

In discussing the findings of the survey, Nico Beukes, managing director of Northern Europe at Yext, commented: “Our research demonstrates that while the digitalisation of retail is expected to expand, consumers still value customer experience that puts humans at the centre.

"While the survey shows that consumers want to find answers independently, positive customer experience is the most powerful tool to consolidate customer loyalty. In a climate where every penny counts, being able to provide customers with self-service online support that understands their questions and gives them direct answers at the touch of a button will be paramount in delivering the customer service they expect.”

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