Even in the digital age, customer satisfaction hinges on human interaction, according to research by Accenture, the consulting firm. In its 11th annual “Global Consumer Pulse Survey,” consumers in 11 industries and 33 countries share one opinion almost unanimously: Consumers strongly prefer to speak  with humans instead of interacting online or on the phone via digital methods of customer service.

U.S. consumers are fed up with “human-less” customer services

(Percentage of survey respondents)

83% | U.S. consumers who prefer dealing with human beings
52% | Have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service

Human interaction is vital to customer satisfaction

77% | Prefer dealing with human beings when seeking advice
45% | Willing to pay more for better customer service
65% | In-store service is the best channel for tailored experiences

Room for improvement in customer services delivery

73% | Expect customer service to be easier and more convenient
61% | Expect customer service to be faster

It didn’t have to end this way

$1.6 trillion | Estimated amount of business switched due to poor service
68% | Consumers who will not go back after switching to another brand or source
80% | Switchers who feel the company could have done something to retain them
83% | Of that group, those who said better live/in-person customer service would have influenced their decision

It’s time to balance your digital exuberance with a human touch

To deliver the experiences customers demand, companies need to re-balance their digital exuberance with a human touch. What’s needed is a mix of digital and non-digital options that allows customers to engage with providers in multiple, highly satisfying ways. Here are some recommendations from Accenture:

  • Put the human and physical elements back into customer services. Rethink how you are investing your customer service budget. Focus on delivering satisfying, integrated customer experiences across all channels.
  • Make it easy for customers to easily move from digital to human interactions to get the experiences they want.
  • Identify the customer experiences that have the greatest potential downside and use those insights to guide investment strategies.
  • Guarantee personal data security so that customers will be more willing to hand over personal information which can be leveraged to deliver better experiences.

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