No time for AI

From banks to taxi companies, a rising number of businesses are turning to automated telephone services in a bid to increase efficiency. It looks certain that artificial intelligence (AI) solutions like these will be a significant and growing feature of our lives over the coming decades, and there are undoubtedly a range of potential benefits associated with such automation. But how do consumers feel about dealing with AI on the phone, and could relying too much on these systems leave businesses vulnerable to losing customers?

We polled 600 people to see what consumers really make of this technology, and whether they prefer speaking to a customer service adviser.

A frustrating experience

Brits may be renowned for orderly queuing, but when it comes to waiting in line to speak to an agent on the phone, it appears people’s patience is wearing thin. When asked what frustrates them most about using automated telephone services, nearly four in 10 respondents (37.5 per cent), said it was the queue time before being passed to an agent. This was closely followed by having to repeat themselves to AI systems to make themselves understood.

It’s perhaps not surprising that frustrations can run high when people are waiting to be connected to an agent, particularly if they are calling to make a complaint. When asked for the longest period of time they have had to wait to speak a customer service adviser after completing the question section of an automated phone service, 46.3 per cent of respondents said they had endured delays of more than 15 minutes, while over a fifth of people said they have had to wait between 10 and 14 minutes.

The importance of the human connection

When it comes to having our questions answered over the phone, it seems there is no substitute for the human connection. The vast majority of people we polled (93.5 per cent) said they would rather speak to a human than an AI system when they have a question.

Businesses that fail to appreciate the importance of this issue may be losing custom as a result. More than four-fifths of the people we surveyed said they would be deterred from using a company again if it only provided an automated phone service. This means there’s a strong business case for making customer service advisers available to customers over the phone.

For more insights into customer perceptions of automated phone systems, check out our full infographic.

Gemma Harding
Gemma Harding

As Head of Client Services, Gemma is an expert in the telephone answering services industry. With over 20 years of experience in the call handling process she will guide your organisation to an improved customer service strategy. Hobbies include all thing equestrian.