Research reveals telecoms customers still value the human touch

customer service

A survey of telecoms consumers reveals they usually prefer to deal with people, as opposed to machines, when interacting with their CSP.

The survey was conducted by analyst firm Omdia to coincide with the launch of its Consumer Engagement Strategies Intelligence Service. Over 3,000 people from the UK, US and Brazil responded to questions focused on how they engage with their communications service provider. The findings would appear to confirm that there is only so much automation a typical punter is prepared to tolerate in those interactions.

That’s not to say chatbots – both text and voice – don’t have their place, especially as a first point of contact, but these findings indicate that CSPs need to be thoughtful about the phase of a given interaction at which they introduce a real person.

“It’s clear that service providers who cut down on human agents do so at considerable risk to their customer engagement strategy,” said report author Peter Boyland of Omdia. “Such reductions need to be carefully managed, with resources redirected into training staff to become experts in key areas. The chatbot cannot be the only voice option – a human handshake must be there when needed.”

This report coincides with an Omdia event earlier this week at which the pros and cons of artificial intelligence – especially generative AI – were discussed. For all the recent advances made in this field, it seems consumers still trust people more than machines to understand and resolve their queries. So long as they’re properly empowered to do so, that is.

“Over half of consumers we surveyed said it was key that the person they speak to is able to make decisions or find resolutions,” said Boyland. “Staff training, improved access to customer data, and ensuring calls go through to the right department can lead to better responses and improve consumer engagement.”

Other findings included the fact that email (via website) remains the most popular communication channel for consumer engagement, while good, old SMS came second, and (human) voice third. This survey provides food for thought to a telecoms industry constantly looking for ways to reduce overheads in a time of flat (at best) ARPUs. It’s also a reassuring reminder that we’re not about to be totally replaced by robots just yet.


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