Email is the preferred contact channel for 44% of consumers, yet just 33% find it to be the most effective, according to a new Econsultancy survey. 

The multichannel customer service survey, conducted using Toluna, surveyed 2,000 UK consumers on their attitudes to various contact channels. 

Some highlights from the survey after the jump... 

Attitudes to telephone customer service

Predictably, many customers get very frustrated with the standard of telephone customer service offered by firms.

People hate call queues above all else, though they reserve plenty of contempt for automated menus and IVR systems, as well as having to pay to make contact. 

Who provides the best customer service? 

Retailers provide the best customer service by a long way, according to our respondents, while everyone else, telecoms especially, need to work harder. 

Social media and customer service 

Must has been made of the potential for social media as a customer service channel, and there are some brands (ASOS for one) doing this well. 

However, just under 2% cited Facebook or Twitter as a preferred customer service channel, though 3.3% said this was the most effective channel. 9% had asked a question of a brand via Facebook, and 6% on Twitter. 

Which brands are providing excellent customer service? 

We asked respondents which brands have provided them with great customer service over the last 12 months. 

The most common brands cited were: 

Do customers want to pay for VIP service? 

We found that one in eight people would pay a fee for a VIP level of service. That figure rises to one in four customers if they earn between £40k and £70k, which says a lot about consumer expectations and perceptions about excellent service.

Graham Charlton

Published 14 September, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (4)


Angelina Foster

I prefer email - it's proof of the name and what someone has said to me. On the phone I'm usually going around in circles and if I get cut off and phone back, the person I was talking to is never to be heard of again!

almost 7 years ago


Paul Scott

We publish an annual survey which covers all these topics. Our data concurs with EConsultany's in most cases. People's frustration with phone based Customer Service hasn't changed significantly for ten years. However, organisations are getting better with dealing with customers as shown by steady improvements in things like Net Promoter Score, which is a far more meaningful measure than pure CSat.

The Social Media figures might not be quite as low for younger generations, who actively avoid phone based CS and used Google, blogs and social media groups before picking up the phone or using email.

almost 7 years ago

Guy Stephens

Guy Stephens, Social Customer Care Consultant at IBM Interactive Experience/GBS/Mobile

We all love a survey. I was thinking that if companies are doing all they can to increase call deflection and self-service, then the likely winner was going to be email. So customers preference for email may in reality reflect that once the self-service option has been tried, the only real or obvious option left is email.

As for the traditional negative view of telephony, perhaps if companies paid their call centre agents more, then we might see a different picture. Perhaps I'm being too simplistic?

almost 7 years ago


Robert Holtshausen

Very interesting article. Just wondering Graham if you had any more information/ statistics on this topic specifically relating to the automotive industry? Thank you.

almost 7 years ago

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