Verint® Systems, The Customer Engagement Company™, announced results from a new large-scale study of more than 36,000 consumers across 18 countries that provides a blueprint for how organizations can deliver experiences that will truly engage customers from today into 2030 and beyond.
Carried out in collaboration with Opinium Research LLP, key findings from the global research titled “Defining the Human Age: A Reflection on Customer Service in 2030” explore how technology, societal trends and customer preferences will shape customer engagement in the years to come. The study also provides advice for engaging the discerning customer and striking the balance in human and automation service experiences—including insights from leading trends forecaster Professor James Woudhuysen during an April 12 webcast.
Customers Will Be More Discerning Than Ever
Across all sectors explored in the study, 49% of consumers have been with their service providers for more than three years, compared with 61% from a similar study in 2015. One in 10 (10%) had been with their service provider for less than a year, compared with 7% from 2015. While retention rates have fallen sharply across all age groups, the results for consumers aged 18-25 indicate cause for concern, as this demographic will become an even more vital and influential audience for organizations in 2030. Just 28% of customers aged 18-25 have been with their service providers for more than three years, and 14% have been with their service provider for less than a year.
The study also found that 69% of all respondents said that a company’s ethics are a major deciding factor when choosing to engage with an organization, and almost half (49%) said they are more likely to switch providers for ethical reasons.
The Human Touch Remains Vital
While technology will continue to influence how customers engage with organizations, more than three quarters (76%) said they want human contact to remain part of customer service. Nearly two-thirds (63%) stated that they are happy to be served by a chatbot if they have the option to escalate the conversation to a human when needed. Yet, 41% said they could not tell the difference between being served by a chatbot and being helped by a human behind a screen.
“The message for organizations based on input from more than 36,000 consumers globally is clear. To succeed into the future, companies must be honest and transparent, both key qualities that must come through in every element of the customer experience,” says Ryan Hollenbeck, senior vice president of global marketing and executive sponsor of the Verint Customer Experience Program. “Today’s visionary organizations are declaring customer engagement a sustainable competitive advantage, essential to their future success. To excel, they need to ensure they have the right mix of digital and human engagement options to offer speed, convenience and the personal touch.”
Of the findings, Woudhuysen, visiting professor of forecasting and innovation at London South Bank University, projects that “Technology will do a lot for people in the future. We can be confident that by 2030 clever chatbots and online channels will make it tougher than ever for customers to distinguish online dialogues and machine operators from human ones. Advanced automation will make self-service and information access easier than ever before. On the other hand, its limitations will ensure that customers, especially older ones, continue to value the human touch delivered by real people. The balance between technology-assisted human service and fully automated service will certainly go on shifting toward the latter, but that balance will vary in different scenarios, and both ways of engaging with customers will remain vital to getting things done.”
About the Research
This research was commissioned by Verint from December 27, 2017 through January 8, 2018 in association with research company Opinium Research LLP. Interviews were conducted amongst 36,014 consumers in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The research was conducted online in the local language for each country, and respondents were incentivized to participate. Sectors involved in the survey included banking, brick-and-mortar retailers, credit card, insurance, mobile phone provider, online retailer, telecommunications, travel and utilities.