Email Widely Used For Customer Service Despite Inconvenience, Poll Says

Email is one of the top two channels used by consumers seeking agent-assisted service. But it lags in convenience, according to 2018 Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark, a study by NICE inContact.

It also produces a lower Net Promoter Score than most other channels.

Overall, only 35% are satisfied with their most recent agent-assisted experience, whatever the channel, and 36% with self-service.

NICE inContact surveyed 2,407 people online using a consumer panel.

It found that phone contact with a live rep is utilized by 49% globally, and email by 32%, meaning that consumers initiated contact via these channels. However, email is used more in the UK, and phone and chat in the U.S.

Yet while the phone is the most-used channel in the U.S., it fell from 66% in 2017 to 53% this year. And email grew from 15% to 30% in the U.S. during the same period.

In addition, the phone has a 69% preference rating and email comes in at 58% -- again, the top two channels. Chat is next, with 28% usage and 53% preference.

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The picture changes when it comes to effectiveness.

Email draws only a 28% satisfaction level, compared with 44% apiece for mobile apps and online chat. 

Worse, email comes in last in convenience behind automated phone menus and text: The top three are chat, website and phone. Similarly, email is ranked last for resolving issues quickly, and second-to-last for requiring minimal effort 

Moreover, email actually harms the net promoter score, producing an NPS of -9. Mobile apps -- which are used by only 16% -- achieve an NPS of 25,  chat 21 and websites 14. But automated phone menus plunge to a -26.

In general, the study found that 89% are willing to buy from companies that provide exceptional customer service, and 82% will go out of their way to do so. In addition, 83% will recommend such firms. But 80% will switch in response to poor service.

In addition, consumers prefer agent-assisted channels over self-service by more than 2:1.

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