Customer service: short waiting times more important than choice of channels

Short waiting times and quick resolution of their query are the two most important elements of customer service for consumers, according to new research.

When asked what they believe are the three main components of a good customer service conversation, as part of FM Outsource’s Make Every Conversation Count report, the vast majority of people said short waiting times (61%), and having their query dealt with quickly and effectively by an operator (60%).

Surprisingly, the specific channel through which these conversations are conducted was significantly less important to people than the quick resolution of their issue: 39% of people said they value having the option to speak to a trained customer service operator on the phone, 23% said they appreciate a wide range of channels, and 22% said they look for 24/7 availability.

The content of the conversation itself was also seemingly less important. Only around a third (32%) of people said they believe the pleasant demeanour of the operator is an integral component, while 19% find personalisation makes a difference.

However, it is clear that consumers are still keen to have a conversation with a human operator when they have a problem, regardless of channel. Fewer than one in 10 (9%) of respondents said they look for the ability to solve a problem themselves, and only 2% like to have the ability to solve queries via automated responses.

Similarly, when asked for the three main components of a bad customer service conversation, long waiting times (57%) and lack of satisfactory resolution to query (42%) were the two most popular responses, followed by not having the option to talk to a human (34%).

Things that would undoubtedly cause temporary frustration for the duration of the conversation, including unpleasant operator demeanour (23%), repeating information multiple times (18%), dealing with multiple agents in one interaction (15%), and a lack of personalisation (14%), were all cited much less frequently.

Martin Brown, CCO at FM Outsource, said: “Our research would suggest that, ultimately, consumers are simply looking for the swift, effective resolution of their problem or query. While it’s increasingly important to offer customers a wide range of choice of channels and availability, the quality of conversations must not be compromised as a result of spreading agents too thinly.

“If customers are finding their query remains unresolved, the fact they were able to contact the company outside of work hours will be of little consequence to them. Businesses need to ensure that operators are empowered to provide a satisfactory resolution across every customer service channel, with the right technology and resourcing in place to enable them to do so.”

About FM Outsource

FM Outsource provides tech-led, high-quality customer care for some of the UK’s top companies. Not just a contact centre, FM Outsource use decades of expertise to help clients transform their businesses by boosting efficiency, fostering brand reputation, and providing first-class customer service.