Given a choice between a range of frustrating activities, 44 percent of Americans would rather scrub a toilet than contact customer support across a variety of industries, a new survey reveals.

But insurance industry customer support is not as bad as customer service for telecoms, according to customers surveyed on behalf of Helpshift, a customer service innovator that uses an AI-powered support platform to help companies resolve customer support issues.

The May 2018 online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults reveals that 74 percent of them agree that contacting customer support is a frustrating experience, and 57 percent feel that customer service has not improved in the past few years.

An incidental finding ranks insurance customer service a bit better than customer support for telecoms and just on par with airlines.

The Helpshift data show that 51 percent voted that telecommunications have the worst customer service of any industry. This was followed by airlines and insurance companies, both coming in at 20 percent.

Overall, for U.S. customers across industries:

  • 44 percent would rather spend 30 minutes cleaning a bathroom than waiting on hold for customer service.
  • 26 percent would rather spend 30 minutes at the dentist.
  • 25 percent would rather sit in traffic.
  • 25 percent would rather visit their in-laws.
  • 24 percent would rather do their taxes.

What do they dread about contacting customer support?

The survey also asked Americans which AI technologies they like and which they find annoying, finding that most are cool with home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, as well as email and messenger chatbots. The majority are creeped out by human-like androids (as in Westworld) and Google Duplex.

Focusing on chatbots specifically, the survey found that 51 percent have a concern that chatbots prevent them from reaching a human and 77 percent get annoyed if they have to type more than four responses to a chatbot. On the other hand, 76 percent say chat-based messaging would be their preferred method of contacting customer support if they knew they would get an immediate response.

“Americans want customer service that is fast, intuitive and convenient,” said Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift, in a statement about the survey. “In order to deliver on those expectations at scale, brands need to achieve a fully conversational experience that relies on the right mix of platform capabilities like bots, threaded messaging with scrollable history and AI-powered call center operations. It’s about leveraging and prioritizing the technology available on the market today that creates the most efficient and personalized experience for the consumer.”

On its website, Helpshift says that the company “bridges the disconnect between conventional customer service channels like email and phone support and a growing consumer base that lives in a mobile-first, messaging-based world.”

Source: Helpshift