While Millennials have long been regarded as having a higher expectations for simple and effective customer service — and using non-traditional channels to get it — the heightened expectations have expanded to include most American consumers, regardless of their generation.
According to an online survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by Nuance Communications, which provides automated customer service solutions, the top pet peeve among Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers is not being able to reach a real person via an automated system.
“There’s been a prevailing view that there’s a big generational divide when it comes to customer service,” Greg Pal, vice president of marketing, strategy and business development for Nuance, tells Marketing Daily. “Over time, it seems those views have all converged.”
As a whole, consumers are not entirely against automated customer service systems, and nearly 90% of those surveyed have interacted with them. Nearly three-fifths (59%) of the respondents surveyed said automated self-service options had improved customer service, and nearly three-quarters (73%) said a more intelligent system that could operate more like a live agent would significantly improve their customer service experience.
“People want to do things with technology as self-service,” Pal says. “But they want those services to be more humanized and adaptive to their needs.”
Improving automated customer service systems can impact the company’s customer loyalty and retention. According to the survey, 87% of consumers said customer service systems had a significant impact on their decision to do business with the company. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the respondents said they have canceled a service or ended a relationship because of a bad customer service experience. Taken together, those two statistics demonstrate the importance of customer service is to modern business, Pal says.
“There’s an increasing recognition that customer service and the quality of those interactions can affect [customer retention],” Pal says. “If you’re interested in having customer service work for you in the long haul, ideally you should give them reasons to stay. But you certainly shouldn’t give them reasons to leave.”