FRANKLIN, Mass., June 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Customer service is at a breaking point. A staggering 90% of consumers say customer experience (CX) is as important as a company’s products or service—yet companies routinely miss the mark, aggravating customers in the process. Frustrated callers frequently raise their voices at overwhelmed agents. The angriest among them speak of exacting revenge when they can’t resolve their problems. Some consumers have given up entirely, outsourcing the labor of calling customer service to “Karens for Hire.”

“Consumers in 2023 have an urgent plea: Just provide an easy, efficient customer experience that answers our questions and solves our issues,” said Interactions Chief Marketing Officer Peter Mullen. “Great customer support is a company’s best superpower. The bad news is that companies seem to have forgotten that, and consumers are frustrated at levels not seen in two decades. But there’s a silver lining in these survey results: Customers are telling businesses loud and clear how to improve their customer service.”

Indeed, according to Interactions data, nearly every American consumer (98%) says an exceptional customer interaction makes them feel valued. Another 96% indicate they are more loyal to companies that provide great service. These are the emotions that drive sustained business success. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, customer satisfaction is a positive predictor of stock market performance that reliably outperforms the S&P 500.

To understand the state of CX in 2023, Interactions, a leader in conversational AI for customer service, surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers. The March 2023 report, CX and the Consumer: Pitfalls and Possibilities, reveals where customer service currently falls short and how companies can course-correct.

The survey results are stark, with 76% of those surveyed expecting to receive better CX than they get today. More than half (55%) say customer service is deteriorating.

Last year, about half of consumers say they became vocally angry while communicating with customer service and about one-third of consumers admit to swearing during a customer service call—to humans and automated digital attendants alike.

Given the choice, many consumers would prefer to do the following instead of engage with customer service:

  • 42% would rather attend “a meeting that could have been an email”
  • 38% would rather get a cavity filled
  • 37% would rather plunge a toilet
  • 32% would rather take the SATs again
  • 28% would rather burn their mouths on hot coffee

Today’s customer service has become so painful that avoiding it crosses a proverbial red line, and 42% of respondents would rather attend “a meeting that could have been an email.”

The good news: Consumers have also provided a roadmap for improvement. The question is, are businesses listening?

The survey respondents provide a positive and actionable roadmap for companies to improve the situation. It starts with delivering better, more personalized experiences.

The vast majority of consumers (69%) value having digital technology such as virtual assistants and chatbots to help them reach resolutions easily and through self-service.

Half (49%) of respondents say being able to communicate with companies in “natural language” is a key benefit instead of using rigid, automated phone trees or chatbots with limited vocabularies. Overall, the blend of self-service technology and humans in the loop as-needed provides the most value to consumers.

“Over the next 10 years, customer service excellence will emerge as a top predictor of a business’ success,” said Mullen. “Those prioritizing personalized experiences, efficiency and self-service problem-solving will flourish.”

The survey was created by Interactions to evaluate how American consumers feel about the customer experience in 2023. Interactions’ technology combines the best of AI and human support to deliver the digital “front door” experience of customer service for leading global brands. Its clients include multiple Fortune 500 companies renowned for their customer-first business practices.

To read the full report, see here.