77% OF BRITS SAY THEY SIMPLY WANT TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN BEING RATHER THAN A SELF-SERVICE CHECK OUT OR AUTOMATED VOICE RECORDING, ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT
A nationwide study into our shopping experiences has revealed as many as 81 percent of the nation claims the personal touch has disappeared from customer service in modern Britain, with almost a third (32 percent) blaming an over-reliance on technology for this decline.
The study shows the average shopper believes they WASTE an average of 1.5 hours a month interacting with poorly functioning automated technology, only for a human to have to step in and help anyway.
The biggest customer service bugbear to emerge from the poll of 2,000 shoppers by Gekko, was having to get someone to come and rectify a problem with the self-service checkout (68 percent), followed by ringing customer services and dealing with a recorded voice, only to have repeat all the details to the person you end up talking to.
So it is little wonder then, that 51 percent of Brits have slammed the phone down in fury during an automated call, as the system didn’t recognise what they were saying.
47 percent of shoppers have had their self-service checkout procedure halted so that a human shop assistant could progress it, which has led to a frustrated 18 percent actually shouting at a self-service checkout.
In fact, more than TTHREE-QUARTERS of British shoppers admit they’d much rather use a checkout with a person on it at the supermarket, rather than taking the self-service option.
61 percent of shoppers would prefer to deal directly with someone when making a complaint, 59 percent would rather speak to a person to find out more information about a product, and 73 percent prefer dealing with a human when trying to get a refund.
And businesses take heed – a third of Brits say they are more likely to buy again from a shop if they’ve received the personal touch, and more than a fifth (22 percent) claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant.
43 percent of Brits have had their screen freeze while trying to make an online purchase, with almost a quarter (23 percent) ending up having to complain on social media when their query hasn’t been responded to adequately via the automated service.
The research also shows the impact of the decline of the local shop, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them, 16 percent confessing they preferred the days when they could talk through a purchase with a someone in-store, and 25% saying online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop.
Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko said: “Everyone is talking about technology and innovation within retail, but our research clearly shows that what consumers really want is the human touch. With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81% of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping businesses need to focus on the customer experience to help revive their fortunes and keep the high street alive”.
When considering what makes a great shopping experience, 49 percent of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor, 47 percent said that staff who go the extra mile – calling another store to find out if something is in stock there for example – made it special, while 35 percent enjoy browsing a real shop and taking in its displays and promotions.
The study also found that, despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want to lose out on humans’ opinions and experience.
Only 30 percent of those polled said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, just 22 percent would like smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, and a mere 14 percent think augmented reality would help visualise products in the home.
And, while 9 percent say they’d enjoy being served by talking robots in store, 27 percent of Brits agree that they’d feel really uncomfortable having a conversation with a robot or AI device.