Consumers also lack confidence in how well companies protect their data
CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, announced findings from its 2020 CGS Customer Services Preferences in Times of Distress Survey. The results showed that consumers in both the U.S. and U.K. are feeling unsure about the safety of their personal data and prefer to connect with human agents in customer service interactions, especially for those that occur during stressful times.
During this time of heightened anxiety, delivering thoughtful and timely service becomes even more critical. CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and 1,000 U.K. consumers to better understand their preferences around customer service interactions and what they need to leave an interaction feeling happy and secure.
Key findings from the survey include:
Consumers are craving human connection in their service interactions
More consumers are working remotely than ever before and finding ways to connect with other humans virtually has become a high priority for many. This need for human connection extends to their customer service interactions as well. A large number of U.S. respondents (38 percent) and U.K. respondents (39 percent) stated that having an opportunity to speak to a human agent is a make-or-break factor in ensuring a satisfactory customer service interaction. Additionally, more than one-quarter of U.S. and U.K. respondents who were disappointed by a brand in the past year attribute this to not being able to reach a human agent.
While companies should heed this warning, they must also remember that a human agent’s work is not done simply by being reachable. Nearly 38 percent of U.S. and 30 percent of U.K. respondents cited that working with a friendly agent is one of the top three requirements for them to leave an interaction happy. Companies wanting to keep their customers loyal can leverage data to match up the right agent and client personality. Also, by providing agents with training to guide them through stressful customer situations, customers are more likely to walk away with a positive experience.
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More transparency around data protection is necessary to ease consumer anxieties
Across the globe, health, safety and job security are top of mind for most consumers. However, there is another factor in everyday life that continues to cause anxiety for U.S. and U.K. consumers: data privacy. More than one-quarter of U.S. respondents indicated that they would like more transparency about how brands are using their data and approximately 30 percent of both U.S. and U.K. consumers admitted they’re unsure about the safety of their data. Companies need to not only protect consumer data from the outside, but also educate consumers on how they are keeping it safe to put them at ease.
Government oversight: The U.S. and U.K. are split on data privacy
While human interaction and data privacy are important to U.S. and U.K. consumers, each country has its own view about the role government should play in data privacy. The U.K. welcomes more government oversight than the U.S., and overall feels more strongly about government involvement. More than half (61 percent) of U.K. respondents admitted they feel more government oversight of personal information is required in customer service interactions. In the U.S., only 30 percent of respondents felt government was needed in this situation. Because GDPR has increased awareness of data usage in the U.K. and its consumers have low confidence in data safety, it’s understandable why they’re looking to the government for protection. As more states adopt consumer data protection laws, companies that provide service to U.S. customers would be wise to proactively re-evaluate their data privacy practices.
"While good customer service is desired in any circumstance, during a disruption it becomes paramount," said CGS president and CEO Phil Friedman. "Good service isn’t just good for the consumer, it’s beneficial to the brand in the long term. The survey findings also confirm the need for personalization while balancing consumers’ data privacy. As we close in on the one-year anniversary of GDPR, it’s no surprise that the U.K. market is hypersensitive to the benefits of privacy regulations."
About the survey:
Google Surveys, a market research tool, conducted this survey of 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. consumers in March 2020.
For over 30 years, CGS has enabled global enterprises, regional companies and government agencies to drive breakthrough performance through business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients' complex, multi-dimensional needs and support clients' most fundamental business activities. Headquartered in New York City, CGS employs more than 7,500 professionals across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Published: Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Charlotte Purvis is a speaker and communication consultant who has influenced an average of one million customer interactions each year for over 20 years. She consults, trains, and speaks on customer service, business communication, and leadership development for global companies, universities, and community organizations. She practices what she teaches as evidenced by nearly 100% of her engagements coming from repeat or referral business.
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