Utility companies and local authority services are among some of the worst ranking sectors in the UK for online customer service, according to new research.
The new report from social media company, myclever™ Agency, found that consumers put utility companies (water, gas, electricity, phone and broadband) as the most frustrating sector for online customer service and local authorities fell close behind. However, retailers and professional services came out as the least frustrating sectors.
The biggest online service frustrations across all sectors was a lack of basic information contained on everyday commercial websites such as retailers, utilities, banks and local government services (45%). Close behind was the inability to ask simple questions (40%). And a third of the sample (33%) said that, even when the option to ask questions existed, the tools they had used in the last month were of poor quality and didn’t provide a timely response.
The main frustrations lie in the inability companies have to answer simple questions quickly. However, when told about the benefits, consumers regarded Chat Bots as the key-holders to speed, unlocking immediacy and convenience in online services. They felt that these virtual assistants, designed to simulate conversation with human users, would significantly improve online services.
More than two thirds (68%) liked that Chat Bots would be able to provide a 24-hour service and 64% felt it would resolve the problem of not getting quick answers to simple questions. More than half (51%) felt happy they would get an instant response, mirroring the frustrations felt about current online customer service providers.
When compared to other forms of customer service channels such as apps – an area where businesses have invested heavily – chat bots scored more highly on all perceived benefits.
Rob McNair, managing director of myClever, said: “Ever-evolving technology and an increasingly digitalised world has changed commerce forever. Online services that were once a luxury are now being demanded by consumers 24/7. In order to stay competitive, businesses are racing to keep up with consumer demands and technological innovations.
“The frustrations clearly indicate the need for online services to improve. And, although frustrations exist in all sectors, it’s interesting to see that the industries exhibiting the most frustrating customer experiences online are the least likely to improve them. Public sector bodies, for example, are notoriously slow to provide accessible online services – and when they do, they’re often inadequate, confusing and riddled with poor UX."