The Phone is Consumers’ First Choice for Customer Service

In a world where it seems like hardly anybody talks to each other anymore by phone, it may come as a surprise that when it comes to customer service, the top choice among consumers – of all ages – is to actually talk to someone who can help.

Given the importance of customer service and the “customer experience” to a company’s image and brand loyalty, that’s an important thing to remember in your customer support operation.

You wouldn’t want your online support to be without email options, a chat function, social media ties, or other electronic means of connecting, but those can’t get the whole job done.

Skeptical? Well, a recent customer service survey of more than 1,100 consumers nationwide showed that 54 percent overall prefer to interact with a company by phone when it comes to customer service and support.

The preference for human contact wasn’t just among older consumers, either. It’s the top choice across age groups.

Phone contact does have the advantages of immediate discussions of the situation, and gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of dealing with nuances and special circumstances than you can get when trying to email or electronically describe your problem. And sometimes, when you have a problem, it just feels better telling someone about it. At least as long as the person on the other end of the line is sympathetic and accommodating.

The survey also found that customer service is critical in light of all that you do in terms of public relations and marketing your products and building that positive public image. We all want to be a company that is beloved by its customers, and to do that, we have to show them lots of love in return when it comes to service and support.

And show it quickly. Two thirds of surveyed consumers say they expect customer service issues to be resolved in 15 minutes or less. That requires well-trained and well-equipped service agents, who can get to the heart of the issue quickly via any of the contact channels.

Keep this in mind: Four out of five consumers surveyed said they would readily stop doing business with a company as a result of a memorably bad customer service experience. The remaining 20 percent tend to be the ones that are so focused on low prices that they’ll put up with most anything if the product is cheap enough. Which means they’re only conditionally loyal, so long as you keep offering a bargain.