The UK is lagging behind other countries in making it easy for customers to interact with large organisations, says research from Avaya

We’ve all, at some point, experienced being left on hold for a ridiculous amount of time when trying to get a hold of a service provider on the phone. As if being made listen to musac wasn’t painful enough, what really kills me is the automated voice that pops in and out to say “Your call is very important to us. Please wait.”

The majority of consumers want service providers to get their act together, especially in the UK, where customer service is particularly bad. According to a new study by Avaya, the UK lags behind international markets including Germany, Singapore and the UAE in making it easy for customers to interact with large organisations.

The lack of multi-channel communications also annoys UK consumers, and nearly three-quarters (73%) express frustration at how difficult it is, when interacting with an organisation, to switch from one means of communication to another without having to start the process over again.

The good news: there’s a whole host of emerging technologies such as AI, chatbots and advanced video tools. The bad news: consumers in the UK are iffy about them.

The finer details of the study

The survey found that 51% of consumers prefer for their questions to be answered by chatbots with AI while they are shopping online or using an app. And nearly a third (32%) say they would prefer a working chatbot powered by AI to a human customer service agent.

While 60% like the idea of using a smart speaker to identify their voice to speed up customer service calls, only 27% of would like to actually use their smart speaker to get customer service, this is nearly half of the global average of 50%.

Privacy concerns

The reluctance of UK consumers to adopt new voice and video channels when compared with their global peers appears to be driven, in part, by privacy and security implications.

“Our research reveals a number of instances of UK and German consumers showing more conservatism in embracing the latest technology when compared with their global counterparts,” said Marcus Hickman, co-founder at Davies Hickman Partners. “For example, two-thirds of UK consumers like the idea of using voice analytics or biometrics, with their voice acting like a fingerprint to authenticate them. But this lags behind international demand from nearly three-quarters of global consumers.

“And perhaps most tellingly, the majority of UK consumers say they wouldn’t use video chat unless they had brushed their hair, so privacy and self-consciousness is clearly a consideration too.”

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