Human Interaction Essential in #Consumer Service

While digital interactions can be key in providing positive consumer service experiences, they should not replace valuable human interactions. Consumers want (and expect) the option to deal with another person when resolving a service issue. FIs should rebalance their digital and traditional consumer service channels accordingly.

In this so-called digital age, one might expect consumers to flock to digital channels to resolve their consumer service issues. However, recent research from Accenture found the majority of consumers actually prefer human interaction during consumer service.

According to Accenture’s report, 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer to have another person work with them to resolve their service issues rather than utilizing a digital channel to do so. The quality of service is also a major differentiator for consumers when choosing where to take their business. More than half (52 percent) of consumers have switched providers in the past year after receiving less than satisfactory service.

The report, “Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement,” surveyed 2,003 U.S. consumers. It further found 45 percent of consumers may even be willing to shoulder additional costs for products and services if it ensures more optimal consumer service experiences. How consumers evaluate these experiences often relies on three key factors,another study found. These factors revolve around a representative’s ability to:

  1. Listen to and understand the consumer’s needs.
  2. Be patient, courteous and friendly with the consumer.
  3. Respond to consumer inquiries in a timely manner.

While human interaction should play a key role in a consumer service strategy, it is not the only element that can help turn a good consumer experience into a great one. Accenture recommends organizations, including community financial institutions (FIs), looking to succeed with service should:

  • Focus on consumer satisfaction.  The balance between digital and human interaction should work in harmony to provide consumers with a positive, integrated experience.
  • Provide consistent service across all channels. As consumers switch between channels of interaction, their movements should be fluid and ultimately lead to the desired outcomes.
  • Identify experiences with potential downsides. The most toxic consumer experiences can negatively impact an FI’s reputation. By identifying these types of experiences, FIs can gain valuable insights to help mitigate them.
  • Ensure consumer data stays private. Consumers need to know their data is not being shared or sold by their FIs. They also need to know safeguards are in place to protect their data from potential fraudsters. If consumers trust their FIs to keep data secure, they may be willing to share more data to gain better experiences.