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Australian brands risk $74bn over poor out-of-hours service
Wed, 20th Mar 2024

Brands operating in Australia need to significantly improve the level of customer service provided outside of traditional working hours, as the nation's businesses risk a monumental $74 billion due to poor customer experience. This is according to a new study conducted by Qualtrics, which reveals that 69% of Australian consumers feel there is ample room for brands to enhance their support offerings after hours.

The key findings of the Qualtrics study show that 54% of Australians are performing life-admin tasks outside of the standard 9-5 hours. While 42% of respondents revealed their lack of faith in chatbots solving their queries due to frustrations with robotic interactions and slower solution times. A significant 79% expressed their preference for human support to resolve billing issues, and 59% demonstrated the same sentiment when opening a bank account. Meanwhile, 36% favoured personally booking flight tickets on their computers, and 27% preferred booking their own medical appointments via their smartphones.

The research findings indicate that there's an urgent need to address these concerns. Almost 85% of consumers think that the current self-serve chatbots are unable to solve their issues, and they would rather have human assistance. However, the study does see potential value in the implementation of chatbots and automated systems. They can not only facilitate faster problem resolution but also offer improved communication on when to expect a solution and enhance self-service abilities during non-working hours.

Yet, the issue remains that 74% of consumers feel chatbots understand their queries less than half the time. A considerable 36% of issues raised after normal working hours go unresolved, and 44% of consumers are willing to wait longer to interact with a human customer-service representative. These glaring issues, combined with the larger trend of consumers performing important tasks outside of normal working hours, present an opportunity for businesses to improve their customer service experiences during non-traditional hours.

Ivana Sekanic, Customer Experience Solutions Strategist at Qualtrics, states, "With the rise of online and in-app shopping and support, consumers are no longer restricted by opening hours - and consumers expect the organisations they engage with to provide the same levels of customer experience and support they need 24/7."

Additionally, the research reveals that 41% of consumers are optimistic about AI's ability to improve customer service, citing faster service times, better help solving queries, and faster delivery times as benefits. It's clear that whilst there is a lean towards valuing human interaction for settling queries, there is still an opening for AI and chatbots in this sphere. Sekanic avers that the key for a successful integration of AI and self-service platforms is in understanding how consumers intend to use them and ensuring that they are equipped to understand and respond to the emotion, intent, and effort behind every engagement.

As businesses move towards adopting and engaging more with AI and advanced tech, maintaining a human-centric approach that delivers a seamless customer experience across channels will determine who the high performers will be in the years to come, Qualtrics states.