Small Business Advice

Majority of customers still prefer phone - but is social about to take over?

Saeed Sheikh

Our Director of Account Management, Saeed Sheikh, discusses the latest in customer service.

A recent multichannel survey by unearthed a rather surprising, but perhaps not unexpected, result: a staggering 72% of customers say that they use phone as a means of contacting customer service. Why is this surprising? Because in this the digital age, social media is increasingly becoming the go-to platform for airing consumer gripes or giving glowing feedback in exchange for real-time – and public – reactions directly from the companies themselves.

But we shouldn't be too surprised by this result. Because for all its pros (most notably the opportunity to give any consumer a soapbox from which to shout), social media severely lacks one thing: the human element.

Telephone v. Social

Of course the vast majority of consumers opt for the telephone when they need to speak to customer service. Speaking to a real person who'll listen to your issues and, if they're doing their job properly, help get them resolved will prevail as the favoured option for contact over social media for many years to come. When a consumer needs to speak to customer service, they actually want to speak to them – and telephone is the medium through which they can do just that.

But that's not to say that social media hasn't already made waves in the field of customer service. In fact, much is made of how social has changed the face of customer service, with those considered the more 'innovative' companies prioritising it as a means of reaching out to customers. With dedicated customer care agents manning the lines, through social media consumers have an instantaneous way of sharing their experience on a very public platform – and companies are quick to react to negative feedback when it's out there for all to see. Social is giving power to the people like never before, and we can expect to see it eventually overtake the telephone.

Cover all bases

The key to great customer service then? Covering all bases. It's no good having a world class call centre if you haven't got social covered, and vice versa. That's why I've invested in making sure that at XLN, our award-winning service spans phone and social. Our UK-based call centres give our customers the chance to speak to someone who really understands what they're asking, and with an average call answer time of 6.8 seconds we don't keep them waiting in a queue. If one of our customers has an issue, the last thing they want is an unnecessary delay. It’s thanks to this that we have a call abandon rate of less than 0.5% – an impressively low figure in the world of customer service.

We’ve also taken the human element one step further here at XLN. We’ve removed IVRs in as many instances as we possibly can so that when a customer calls us, they get straight through to a real person.

Over on social, I have a team of dedicated agents keeping watch over our social channels so that they can identify issues as and when they arise, and deal with them ASAP. It's something we've really taken seriously in the last few years because we know that there's no 'one size fits all' solution; some customers might prefer to phone in, but others would rather take to social media. By making sure we've got it all covered, we can pave the way for the next generation of customer service.