People these days want a personal and personalized customer service, and they want to be heard. It’s our jobs to take their input into account and improve our business processes. Consumers don’t only voice their opinions, thus providing you with crucial data (think about social media monitoring, for example), they also increasingly seek customer service online.

There are ample opportunities to offer online support: click to call, click to chat, self-service systems, social media, etc. In practice we see that wat matters most from a consumer viewpoint is a personal customer service, regardless of channel. Email marketing, however, continues to play a dominant role, along with traditional channels.

Nevertheless, (live) online help systems are becoming more important too. The “Live Help: Global Consumer Views & Trends”, commissioned by ATG Oracle, indicates consumers want and appreciate live online help in their various customer service interactions with businesses.

Differences in the ways consumers seek customer service online

94% of US consumers and 77% of Europeans ranked click to call as ‘useful to extremely useful’. Regarding click to chat this was respectively 90 and 83%.

Obviously, there are differences regarding the reasons why consumers seek customer service and live help. 76% of European respondents prefer click to call instead of click to chat, when it comes to a purchase or a reservation of a product or service which costs more than five hundred dollars. 76% prefer click to call instead of click to chat, when it comes to delicate information such as credit card details.

Despite clear preferences for these live online help systems, they are not often used. Click to chat has been used by only 37% of US consumers and 27% of European consumers. Regarding click to call the report found 21% of both European and US consumers have used it.

Good old FAQ and online self-service sections are still consulted by 42% of European respondents and 49% of US consumers.

A preference for personal customer service interactions

In reality, the main ways consumers try to get help and customer service are calling a customer service number and email inquiries. Then why this big difference between what consumers think about live online help systems and what they actually use?

First of all, there are geographical differences. US consumers are most familiar with live help. 94% say “live help would be useful when making online purchases”.

In most European countries email rules and the telephone is an often selected method as well. However, according to the report, there is a lack of broad availability regarding live online help systems.

This might be a missed opportunity for many online retailers and other businesses, especially since most consumers prefer a “personal” interaction and this is clearly something FAQ tools do not offer. Should businesses provide more live online help systems to meet consumers’ needs? According to the report, the answer is clearly yes.

Of course live online helps tools are just part of an omnichannel and increasingly digital customer service approach. The trick: prioritize, optimize, integrate, connect (systems, processes and tools) and have a single customer view.