for automated self-service has advanced rapidly with more and more
organizations using it to enable quick responses from the device, time
and place of the customer’s choosing. Yet, there is still a critical
role that the human touch plays today and into the future, according to
the findings from a 2018 global consumer research study commissioned by
insights from more than 36,000 consumers in 18 countries—including
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong
Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa,
Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States—the study
carried out in partnership with Opinium Research LLC provides fresh
perspective on consumer expectations; explores how technology, societal
trends and customer preferences will shape engagement in the years to
come; and provides advice for striking the right balance between human
and automated service experiences.
The Human Touch Matters
the study’s wealth of data about consumer preferences across age groups
and market segments, which takeaways bubbled to the top? Despite all
the new digital channels, 76% of consumers want human contact to remain
part of the customer experience.
two-thirds (63%) stated that they are happy to be served by a chatbot
if they have the option to escalate the conversation to a human when
needed. And interestingly, 41% said they could not tell the difference
between being served by a chatbot and being helped by a human behind
the screen. Still, the study makes it clear that at some point in the
engagement journey with a company, customers want to know they have the
option to break through the “technology wall” and speak to a person to
ensure their voice is heard.
Loyalty Down, Interest in Company Ethics Strong
key points in the study provide a blueprint for customer engagement
strategies in coming years. While price and quality of a product or
service are still key, other factors—such as the customer
experience—are rising in importance in the purchasing decision.
study also shows that customers are more fickle than in years past.
They’re less likely to stay with service providers for the long term,
making it even more important for organizations to understand customer
preferences and meet them.
all sectors explored in the study, 49% of consumers have been with
their service providers for more than three years, compared with 61%
from a similar study in 2015.
• One in 10 have been with their service provider for less than a year, compared with 7% from 2015.
retention rates have fallen sharply across all age groups, the results
for consumers aged 18-25 indicate cause for concern, as this
demographic will become an even more vital and influential audience for
organizations in 2030.
28% of consumers aged 18-25 have been with their service providers for
more than three years, and 14% have been with their service provider
for less than a year.
factors have led to this decline in customer loyalty? Perhaps it’s
because there are more choices. Maybe it’s the result of unpleasant
customer experiences. Or maybe it goes deeper. The study found that 69%
of all respondents shared that a company’s ethics are a major deciding
factor when choosing to engage with an organization, and almost half
(49%) said they are more likely to switch providers for ethical reasons.
Personalization, Transparency and Trust
importance of transparency and trust also came through loud and clear
in the 2018 consumer study results. In fact, the study revealed a fine
line between personalization and collecting data for customer
engagement purposes. While more than two-thirds of consumers (68%) like
their customer experiences to be tailored to their interests,
organizations can run the risk of over-personalizing and alienating
the same time, consumers are growing more aware of the value of their
personal data. The research found that 71% of consumers are worried
about the amount of personal data organizations have about them. Only
37% said they were happy to provide their personal information in
exchange for a discount or special offer, a figure that dropped to 29%
if their information would be passed on to third parties for a
discount. Just over half (51%) of consumers said they trust
organizations to use their data ethically.
today’s market, trust and ethics play such a vital role in an
organization’s success, especially when it comes to privacy and
safeguarding customer data. To provide the excellent experiences
consumers demand, companies need information about their customers, and
therefore need to collect some data. It’s how they use this
information, coupled with ever-changing regulations, that has come to
Digital on the Rise, But Human Relationships Always in Vogue
By all accounts, the study shows that organizations must continue to invest in the digital experience.
• 69% of respondents want organizations to make it easier for them to engage or make a purchase whenever they want.
• 47% won’t engage with an organization that doesn’t have a good website or mobile app.
• 68% said organizations need to make it easier to resolve a query without having to call someone or go in-store.
• 32% want organizations to provide online account option in the next 5-10 years.
the same time, while the study points out the value of the “cool
factor” as viewed by consumers who are savvy about technology and
dependent on their devices to get things done, technology alone isn’t
must be transparent, ethical and responsible in every element of their
business. That includes always disclosing if artificial intelligence
(AI) or chatbots are serving the customer. And customers should always
have the option to speak to a highly skilled, highly trained, human
important to understand that when technology is used, it needs to be a
tailored, individual experience, but only humans can form an emotional
bond to delight the customer. Leading trends forecaster James
Woudhuysen, visiting professor of forecasting and innovation at London
South Bank University, says it well:
can be confident that by 2030 clever chatbots and online channels will
make it tougher than ever for customers to distinguish online dialogues
and machine operators from human ones. Advanced automation will make
self-service and information access easier than ever before. On the
other hand, its limitations will ensure that customers, especially
older ones, continue to value the human touch delivered by real people.
The balance between technology-assisted human service and fully
automated service will certainly go on shifting toward the latter, but
that balance will vary in different scenarios, and both ways of
engaging with customers will remain vital to getting things done.”