Poor customer service is looking pervasive these days, according to a survey from AI-enabled customer contact center provider Replicant, which found that 91% of consumers had experienced poor customer service in the past six months, and one in three saying customer service is worse than before the Covid-19 pandemic. This article is copyright 2021 The Best Customer Guide.

The problem in contact centers is especially dire, the company warned. The most common form of poor customer service, according to 56% of those surveyed, was long wait times, and 70% of respondents said it’s harder to reach a real person now than it was during the beginning of the pandemic. Of consumers who report customer service is worse than before the pandemic, 82% blame staffing issues.

But the survey found that consumers are open to speaking to conversational machines (an AI-powered machine that can hold human-like conversation and respond to questions quickly and accurately in a natural sounding voice). Nearly 80% of consumers indicated they would speak to a machine to avoid long hold times. Moreover, 57% of consumers would speak with a conversational machine even if the hold time was only five minutes.

The majority of consumers said they are willing to talk with a conversational machine instead of a real person when making typical customer service requests like scheduling an appointment, starting or stopping a service, or making a reservation.

Consumers also reported that:

  • Time is money – 74% of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to lose US$15.72 on average to avoid waiting on hold or dealing with poor customer service.
  • Longer hold times than before the pandemic – 32% report the average time they spend waiting on hold has doubled compared to before the pandemic; half of people waited on hold more than 15 minutes during their most recent customer service experience.
  • Hold times are a liability for brands – 70% of consumers are irritated or angry with a hold time of more than 30 minutes. One in five consumers reported waiting on hold at least 30 minutes during their most recent customer service experience.
  • Reevaluating travel due to poor customer service – 25% of summer travelers said they’ve rethought future travel plans because of poor service.
  • Brands that don’t address gaps in customer service are at risk – Some 76% of consumers said a poor customer service experience negatively impacts their perception of a brand and one in three saying it affects loyalty.

“This data shows that customers are looking for better service, notice when it’s poor, and voluntarily switch brands as a result,” said Gadi Shamia, CEO and co-founder of Replicant. “Spikes in call volume and challenges in staffing call centers worsened during the pandemic and are now the new normal, so companies must think of a new path forward. For companies, AI Thinking Machines are providing a first line of support for overburdened contact centers to give customers quicker and more efficient customer service.”

Original Source – used with permission