80% of shoppers avoid calling customer service

Woman on phone at call center
More and more consumers go online for customer service. (Getty/Wavebreakmedia)

As many as 80% of consumers try to resolve their issues somewhere online before contacting customer service, according to a recent survey conducted by Radial and CFI Group in order to better understand the customer service journey. The results prove that retailers need to focus on the digital experience in addition to having strong live agents, as consumers are turning more and more to online solutions to retail problems. 

Specifically, 60% of shoppers try visiting the retail website before contacting customer service—34% of which do so via a mobile device. 

RELATED: Bad customer service ruining shoppers' lives

Robin Gomez, director of data and analytics at Radial, said that much of the study confirmed what analysts already knew about the interaction between retail consumers and customer service, but the consistency of these trends was somewhat surprising. 

"Retailer mobile apps, for example, have continued to grow in acceptance and use. According to this most recent study, a full 19% of those who contact customer service first try the mobile app. That’s one out of five," Gomez said. 

The websites getting the best response from consumers are those with interactive chatbots or Visual IVR tools for customer service. When asked, 32% said that using an automated IVR system is insufficient and they still need an agent, yet 55% of consumers said they are likely to use Visual IVR if given the option. In addition, 21% of respondents said that a company website is not at all helpful.

RELATED: Shoppers want help from technology, not associates

Sheri Petras, CEO of CFI Group, said that there are several reasons why searching online for answers is appealing to retail customers:

  • Convenience–Sometimes finding a contact number is (intentionally) difficult, with contact information buried behind the home page of the site. Since the consumer is online searching for contact info, it can be just as easy to search for potential answers.  
  • Speed–When a consumer places a call, he or she is confronted with a welcome message, IVR selections, hold time, agent introduction and time to explain the question to the agent. It is more appealing to do a quick search and get right to potential solutions. 
  • Comfort–Consumers have grown to appreciate viewing the options and detail with their own eyes. 
  • Multitasking–A customer can search online with involved in other activates. And the customer can pause as needed and return to the task later.

"Moving forward, self-serve options will continue to bring rich solutions to retail consumers, there will always been a need for professional live agents equipped with robust platforms to deliver customer service tailored to the individual consumers," Petras said. "It increasingly takes more than a kind disposition and familiarity with the company to deliver great customer service; agents need systems that provide a customer-level across its digital properties, physical stores and contact center contacts."