Companies fail to deliver great customer service online, survey finds


A survey of more than 2,000 consumers and businesses across Britain found most companies are failing to deliver an online customer service experience to match.  

The survey, commissioned by live chat software provider Netop, found today’s customers want to connect fast, and engage live with a human customer service representative at their bank, building society, retailer, grocer or indeed any other provider they use. Customers also prefer to engage online, from the comfort of their own home, using a tool such as live chat to help avoid call centre misunderstandings that arise from unintelligible accents.  

Despite these findings, the vast majority (93%) of UK businesses are failing to take advantage of live chat to enhance their customers’ service experience.

Instead, customers are relegated to using traditional and archaic customer service methods to get satisfaction, typically queuing on the phone (75%) or waiting for a response to an email (71%). Meanwhile, a high number of people (22%) still rely on old-fashioned pen and paper to get their voice heard. 

Don’t put me on hold

When comparing the advantages of live chat over these other customer service channels almost three-quarters (73%) said being held in a long phone queue was their biggest pet hate, said Netop. Meanwhile, over half (57%) said they disliked phone calls routed between different departments

Just over half (52%) think live chat would finally bring an end to listening to interminable ‘hold music’ played while they wait for someone to answer the phone, researchers found. A similar amount (54%) felt live chat could eliminate any issues due to strong regional or foreign accents at the call centre.

However, although consumers believe live chat can solve many customer service headaches and irritations, just 7% of British companies offer an online chat facility on their website today, said Netop.

Yet, despite the limited availability of live chat in Britain, it was used last year by more than a quarter (28%) of those surveyed suggesting wherever a live chat option can be found on a website, it will be heavily used, according to researchers.

Kurt Bager, chief executive officer at Netop, believes many businesses are missing an easy opportunity to engage more closely with their customers, and on their customer’s terms. 

“Live chat resolves almost all the problems of a call centre and does so much more quickly. At the same it allows businesses to give a personalised service experience making customers feel more valued and bringing them closer to their brand. Hands down, live chat beats listening to hold music and saves you having to pop into town to sort something out that could be easily addressed online.”