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Industry Research : Amid COVID-19 and Social Distancing, Consumers Prefer Calling Customer Service, More Than Chatbots or Email

#contactcenterworld, @uniphore

Uniphore, an early Conversational Service Automation category provider, released survey results that show American consumers overwhelmingly prefer to use voice over every other medium when contacting a company’s contact center. The results underscore a growing need for voice-enabled automation software and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that can eliminate the need to put customers on hold. Further, advanced technology can also help businesses streamline the customer service experience by predicting customer intent and help to resolve issues quicker – especially during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Key Findings

As businesses and society work through the current realities and unknowns, Uniphore wanted to better understand the types of experiences people are having with contact centers and some of the challenges that both consumers and businesses are facing during this pandemic. In addition to the finding that nearly 80% of people polled want to speak with an agent as opposed to a chatbot, the following key themes emerged and were supported by the data represented below:

Contact Centers are overwhelmed by the wave of inquiries currently pouring in:

- On top of routine contact center traffic, over 42% of the respondents have recently reached out to a contact center to resolve COVID-related issues around travel, employment, insurance, medical or financial issues.
- Over 33% of callers waited more than 30 minutes on hold (with 5% saying they waited more than 2 hours).
- 37% of the respondents had to wait for a call back or ended up calling 2 times or more to connect with an agent.
- When finally connected with an agent, more than 25% of the respondents spent more than 20 minutes with an agent to get needed information or resolve an issue.
- Over 18% of recent callers have been disconnected from a call into a contact center and had to call back at least once and in some cases multiple times to be connected.

Customer patience is reaching a breaking point:

- 72% said they have ended the call while still waiting to speak with a live person.
- Of those who got through 43% said they felt angry, annoyed or frustrated as a result of being put on hold.
- 68% said they would stop patronizing companies with which they have had a bad customer experience.
- After their recent contact center experience, people have been underwhelmed and apathetic: 40% of respondents reported they would neither recommend nor not recommend the company they just interacted with.
- On the lighter side, 30% of respondents said they would prefer to deep clean the bathroom than be put on hold.

It’s not all bad: Organizations and agents can be effective:

- Once they connected with an agent, nearly 60% found the agent prepared with useful information.
- Despite current conditions, nearly 65% of respondents have NOT had a negative experience with company representatives.
- When asked if their interaction with agents yielded timely and relevant information, 2/3 of the respondents replied "yes".
- On the lighter side, people are able to burn calories while on hold. The number one activity people report doing while on hold is walking around the house or apartment (45%).
- 74% said they would prefer that a call center have a historical record of their past interactions.
- 50% of respondents fully expect the organization to have some clue as to why they are calling (intent detection).

"This data shows we are in the middle of a perfect storm. People are reaching out to organizations in record numbers using their voice as a primary means of communicating and they expect to be heard and not put on hold," said Umesh Sachdev, CEO and Co-founder of Uniphore. "The fact remains that technical innovations can absolutely solve these issues and do it in a cost-effective way by leveraging conversational service automation. This can help ensure every voice is heard by using machine learning and natural language processing to understand intent and automate processes."

Survey Background
This survey was completed during the second week of April, 2020 as the country continued its lockdown. The survey was administered online and included a random sampling of 1,000 people from across the United States.

#contactcenterworld, @uniphore

Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

About Uniphore Software Systems:
Company LogoUniphore is the global provider in Conversational Automation. Every day, billions of conversations take place across industries — customer service, sales, HR, education and more. Whether they are human to human, human to machine or machine to machine, conversations are at the heart of everything we do, and the new currency of the enterprise. At Uniphore, we believe companies that best understand and take action on those conversations will win. We have built the most comprehensive and powerful platform that combines conversational AI, computer vision, emotion and tonal analysis, workflow automation, and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) with a business-user-friendly UX in a single integrated platform to transform and democratize customer experiences across industries.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Beware Of Techno Babble & Jargon

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Published: Friday, May 22, 2020

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2023 Buyers Guide Messaging Systems


miSecureMessages is an encrypted messaging application designed as a pager replacement for healthcare organizations, call centers, and enterprise environments.

eGain Corporation

Messaging Hub
eGain has rearchitected its platform to handle the messaging channels in a new way. eGain Customer Engagement Hub™, the platform that unifies knowledge, AI, analytics, and conversations to ensure that no channel is left in a silo, also powers the eGain Messaging Hub.

Startel Corp.

Contact Center Software
Startel is a leading provider of unified communications, business process automation and performance management solutions for contact centers. Since its founding in 1980, Startel has established a loyal customer base from a variety of industries, including contact centers, education, healthcare, insurance and telephone answering service. Startel's solutions are designed to enhance the customer experience, improve employee productivity, reduce operating costs, and increase revenues.


Chat, Synthetix’s multichannel live chat solution offers customer support in real-time, driving huge efficiencies.

When customers have complex queries that require human intervention, live chat proves far more efficient than traditional channels. Not only is it quicker and more convenient than waiting on hold to be dealt with, but with AI-powered features, it produces massive ROI.

With concurrent chat slots, a live key-press feed and AI-predictive suggestions that recommend articles in real-time, Synthetix Chat reduces average handling times by up to 50% compared to standard live chat.

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