People still want human contact, not just self-service

Australia as a nation roundly embraces self-service options at the supermarket check-out, the service station, banks, and online. As more businesses replace human staff with self-service options, it appears as though Australians are choosing to deal with machines instead of people.

However, recent research conducted by Qualtrics, surveying approximately 1000 Australian telco customers, has revealed that people aren’t completely on board with self-servicing yet when it comes to interacting with their telecommunications providers.

The research revealed that the top three ways customers prefer to interact with telcos are contact centres (42 percent), retail stores (41 percent), and websites (34 percent). While there is room for improvement, the experiences are, for the most part, positive, with results showing that 24 percent of customers felt that telcos exceeded their expectations. 49 percent felt their expectations were met, and 18 per cent stated the experience failed to meet expectations.

See also: 5 steps to improve customer service by making it personal

Importantly, the proportion of people willing to self-serve declines when there is a fault. Almost half (47 percent) of people go straight to the contact centre, 27 percent walk into a retail store, and just 22 percent go to the website in search of a solution to the problem. Those who go to a retail store have a better experience than those who go to a contact centre: 74 percent of retail store visitors said the experience equalled or exceeded their expectations compared with 57 percent of contact centre customers.

These results suggest that Australians would prefer human contact in certain situations. This is especially true if the product or service is complex or not quite living up to the customer’s expectations. Customers want to be heard, see action, and feel like they have a human dealing with their issue because it gives a greater sense of confidence hat the issue is understood and will be resolved.

Other research has borne this out, with some figures suggesting that as many as five in six people would rather interact with a human than a self-serve checkout. The key for businesses is to understand what their customers want, then invest in those channels. So, for a business that offers a simple, transactional experience, self-serve could be a great way to keep costs down. But, for businesses with a more complex offering, the human touch is crucial to engendering customer loyalty.

For businesses to know whether to move to self-serve options or retain more human customer service agents, they need to understand their customer experiences and key touchpoints. One of the essential ways to do this is to ask customers for their feedback at crucial moments during the purchase and post-purchase journey. Conducting pulse surveys and market research is crucial to get the consistent, accurate, and comprehensive insights necessary to make the right decisions regarding self-service.

Telcos should look to invest in Experience Management platforms that give them a streamlined, reliable way to gain data and real-time insights regarding their customers’ experiences and perceptions of the organisation. Doing so can help companies outperform their competition and reduce churn, since they can deliver exactly what customers are looking for, whilst anticipating their future needs using predictive analytics tools that are readily available in a sophisticated Experience Management Platform.

See also: The Ultimate Voice of Customer (VoC) Starter Kit



Qualtrics is the technology platform that organisations use to collect, manage, and act on experience data, also called X-data™. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action, used by teams, departments, and entire organisations to manage the four core experiences of business—customer, product, employee and brand—on one platform. Over 10,000 enterprises worldwide, including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 U.S. business schools, rely on Qualtrics to consistently build products that people love, create more loyal customers, develop a phenomenal employee culture, and build iconic brands.

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