UK customers now contact brands nearly half a billion times every month, costing organisations £1.227 billion

New research highlights the growing volume of consumer queries that UK brands now need to handle, and the increasing cost this imposes on companies. The average UK consumer now contacts organisations nine times per month, according to research undertaken as part of the 2018 Eptica Customer Experience Automation Study.

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Across the adult population this means brands need to respond to 463.5 million contacts every month, and the figure is rising. 88% of those surveyed said they now contact companies more or the same number of times as five years ago – with 16% getting in touch more than twice as often.

Increasingly, consumers are happy to embrace self-service channels where they can find their own answers, without needing to contact brands through email, the telephone, chat or social media. 83% already use or are willing to use web self-service systems, which analyse queries and deliver automatic instant answers on a company website, while over half (54%) would use intelligent voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Siri from Apple to gain information. 64% also want to use automated, artificial intelligence-powered chatbots.

Using industry average figures from analysts Contact Babel[1], answering these queries costs the UK economy £1.227 billion across the telephone, web, email, social media and chat channels. This is made up of £440.44m (email), £236.98m (social media), £211.99m (chat) and £338.31m (telephone). In contrast automated channels such as self-service, chatbots and voice assistants have a negligible cost per interaction once they are in place.

“Delivering an excellent customer experience is crucial to every organisation today. However, our research shows the scale of the challenge brands face, with consumers getting in contact nearly half a billion times every month in the UK,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Clearly many of these conversations are complex and require the human touch, but others could be automated, speeding up the process for consumers and increasing efficiency for brands.”

Demonstrating the multichannel nature of today’s customer experience, on average each UK consumer used email for 27% of their interactions by brands, followed by web self-service, telephone and social media (17%) each, with 11% of contacts through chat and chatbots respectively.

“Reducing the number of contacts by 10% would save over £122 million – enabling companies to focus resources where they are needed most. Our research shows that consumers are open to embracing new AI-powered technologies such as voice assistants and chatbots, providing an opportunity to improve the experience and reduce costs at the same time,” added Olivier Njamfa.

With customers looking to interact more with brands, with a wider range of queries, it is vital for brands to balance AI and the use of human agents. AI-based automation is key to delivering faster, more consistent and efficient responses, particularly for routine queries. This frees up agents to focus on more complex, detailed queries where human skills such as empathy are best deployed, boosting engagement and brand reputation.

For the research 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed online in Q3 2018.

The full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform how they use knowledge within customer experience is available here.

An infographic on the results is available here.

About Eptica

Eptica is a leading European technology company specialising in intelligent platforms for digital customer experience. Eptica provides conversational & collaborative solutions powered by AI. Founded 16 years ago by Olivier Njamfa, Eptica supports brands to make digital CX the key link in the value chain, ensuring their customer service delivers value to consumers and across their business.

Globally, more than 450 organisations across all industries rely on our solutions on all digital channels, including self service & knowledge base, email, chat and social media. We enable millions of individuals to engage in meaningful conversations with brands improving daily lives for everyone. Customers include AXA, L’Occitane, Dixons Carphone, Crédit Agricole, Domestic & General, AirAsia, Hastings Direct, TUI, Debenhams, Capita and Ageas Insurance Solutions.

Specialising in Natural Language Processing (NLP), Eptica makes the best use of AI and cognitive technologies for CX, enabling brands to improve:

  • 1. Customer satisfaction
  • 2. Competitiveness: equipping organisations with bots that automate simple tasks and provide decision support tools to enhance agents, generating greater productivity and allowing agents to focus on more complex conversations and enabling sales
  • 3. Customer knowledge: generating customer intelligence that guides brands and their operations.

Eptica has offices in Paris, London, Boston and Singapore. Visit https://www.eptica.com/

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