“Hi! How can we help you today?”

As an internet user, many times, you’ve probably seen an automated chat bot appear on the bottom corner of your screen when you’ve opened a website. To build more efficiency into our daily lives and to save time, automated technology has found its way into every industry, including tech support and customer service.

Digitization has evolved many industries including tech support services, but still, we can’t overlook the human touch in customer support as an invaluable factor to customer success and satisfaction. A recent study revealed that 75 percent of customers would rather solve support issues by speaking with a live agent than by using another method.1New Research Reveals 75 Percent of Customers Still Favor Live Agent Support for Customer Service Vs. 25 Percent Self-Service and Chatbots, 2018, New Voice Media While online services are often convenient and helpful for data collection, there are many reasons why live agent customer service remains the best option for technical support.

The Push for Personalization

A recent study revealed that the number one reason customers dread calling companies for support is the growing probability that they will encounter a bot instead of a human upon connection.26 Reasons Why Empathy is Vital for Enhancing Customer Experience, 2015, Customer Service When customers call a customer support network, they want to be greeted by another person who has the expertise to help them solve a problem. Humans want to feel valued and understood, so empathic communication and active listening play critical roles in an agent’s ability to successfully support their customer.26 Reasons Why Empathy is Vital for Enhancing Customer Experience, 2015, Customer Service A live agent can step into the shoes of a consumer and understand an issue from their perspective, both technically and emotionally. With this perspective, not only can an agent solve the technical problem at hand, but they can also build a long-term, personal relationship with a customer. This relationship development can increase customer satisfaction by up to 20 percent.3The three Cs of customer satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency, 2014, McKinsey & Company

In addition, 56 percent of customers seek a personalized experience when contacting a customer support network.4Trends that will Improve the Customer Service Experience in 2020, 2019, Customer Zone 360 They expect their agent to know who they are, what they are doing, and what concerns they have, and they don’t want to have to repeat their tech problem over and over if they get passed to another agent. With the help of customer data, a live agent can track past interactions with a customer and draw conclusions about support based on the customer’s story. While simple, this benefit of live customer support is impactful. Eighty-four percent of customers are more likely to continue business if they are treated like a person by a representative, rather than a number or ticket.5Customer Expectations Hit All-Time High, 2016, Salesforce While the technology behind customer data collection helps maintain and store customer information, a personal conversation with an agent ensures the data is used in a way that supplements services precisely and reminds the customer of their value to the company.

More Efficiency, Less Hassle

Some say that digitizing customer support across all channels improves efficiency, but this is not always the case. In fact, 57 percent of consumers said they find live customer service agents to be most effective in solving problems or handling their needs, compared to AI-powered support solutions.6New Study: Customer Service in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 2019, Zingle Currently, the transaction of human communication cannot be replaced by digital innovation. A live agent can react to the concerns of a customer immediately and can determine a course of action to resolve the issue more quickly than a virtual channel can, driving efficiency in resolving issues and ensuring a positive experience. A live agent can also go off-script while providing support, while non-human support systems may hit roadblocks following a customer support software script. This differentiates the conversation between a live agent and a customer from other support resources.

Human communication ensures ongoing, proactive problem solving between a provider and a customer. While moving conversations to online support platforms might seem convenient, it can significantly slow down the delivery of support and lead to frustration from a customer. Humans can typically speak 125-175 words per minute and listen to up to 450 words per minute while communicating verbally.7Your Customers Still Want to Talk to a Human Being, 2017, Harvard Business Review However, when communicating through a chat function, this number decreases to around 40 words per minute.7Your Customers Still Want to Talk to a Human Being, 2017, Harvard Business Review This significant difference in speed can lead to frustration from a customer and can create barriers to understanding the problem a customer is experiencing. Therefore, the opportunity to speak with a live agent avoids the risk of barriers in solving problems quickly.

Self-Service Is Not Taking Over

Self-serve resources and online chats are becoming more prevalent in tech support. While these resources are valuable, they cannot meet the needs of every customer. Companies may think they are streamlining efficiency by implementing online resources and self-support as their primary means of customer service. However, 65 percent of customers have difficulty using websites and online platforms for self-guided or chat support.8State of Customer Experience 2018, 2018, The Northridge Group Only one-third of customers will be satisfied by online-only, self-help resources for tech support.

Despite the plethora of tech support options available, speaking with agents remains the favorite method of customer support—in fact, nearly three in four customers say that speaking with a knowledgeable agent is an important part of their overall satisfaction.9#WellActually, Americans Say Customer Service is Better Than Ever, 2017. American Express That said, customers do not like to repeat themselves, or repeat steps that they have already taken, which often leads to a lot of frustration. Agents who can walk a customer through resolving an issue without handing them off to another agent, or without asking them to repeat steps, can dramatically improve the customer’s overall experience and perception of the company.

The Verdict

With all this considered, it is no surprise that the human touch has been coined as a “luxury” in customer service. While technology is storming customer support services, the value of human communication in problem-solving, relationship development, and overall customer satisfaction cannot be overlooked. As customer expectations continue to climb and tech support needs increase as connected devices proliferate, the live customer support agent’s role will only become more important to customer satisfaction.

Businesses looking to add tech support services should make sure a live chat feature is offered as part of the service to ensure that their customers’ first impression is a good tech support experience. Support.com also believes that a seamless handoff from self-service to live agent support is critical to streamlining the customer interaction and delivering the best customer experience possible. Support.com offers a human-touch approach that is supported by expert self-support guides to make our agents more efficient, with product knowledge at their fingertips. Our standards for tech support are high, and to best meet those standards, we rely on a human-to-human interaction. Find out more about Support.com’s call center services here.

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