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Most Consumers Want to Call Businesses, but Only Half are Satisfied with the Experience

Consumers want to call businesses directly before making a high-stakes purchase, according to a new report published by Invoca, the leader in conversation intelligence for revenue teams. The "Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report," analyzes the sentiments of 500 U.S. consumers and pinpoints the importance of the phone call in the buyer journey for purchases that require consumers to do research or put more thought into a decision — often due to complexity or cost of the item or service — particularly over the past year of volatility. The study found that 68% of consumers find the human connection aspect of calling businesses attractive and say they prefer to communicate in this way more than any other channel, including online channels like chat or email. However, just over half of the respondents said they were satisfied with their experience calling a business overall.

Human Conversations Have a Significant Impact on the Buying Experience

With storefronts closed and consumers limiting physical interactions, eCommerce sales skyrocketed in 2020, reaching upwards of $860 billion — an unprecedented 44% increase from the year prior. While consumers turned to online channels to make everyday purchases, they still want human assistance to complete more complex transactions. Consumers frequently call businesses to get this help, and the Invoca report found that this isn't a last resort. In fact, the study found people prefer to call. Specifically, most respondents call to do more research (44%) and, simply, because they feel most comfortable completing high-stakes purchases on the phone (30%).

"In these high-stakes transactions, consumers want to feel confident that they are making the right buying decision, and offering a human touch is the best way to provide that reassurance and build a rapport with them," said Dee Anna McPherson, CMO of Invoca. "However, this also means that businesses must pay close attention to the experience that their customers are having on the phone and implement the technology needed to perfect it, because it can make or break the reputation of their brands."

Invoca's Spring 2021 Buyer Experience Benchmark Report key findings include:

• Productive and effective conversations can inspire long-term confidence and loyalty from consumers. For instance, 50% of consumers report finding agents more helpful now than before the pandemic, and around half (51%) of respondents feel satisfied with their interactions overall and believe their business is valued (45%).

• Yet, if businesses aren't making contact center calls a priority, poor experiences push customers in the opposite direction. A top reason for customer dissatisfaction when calling is long wait times, which is acutely felt in transactions with travel (46%), insurance (43%) and healthcare (43%) businesses. Three out of 4 consumers will hang up after being placed on hold, with only 6% of callers holding out for 30 minutes or longer.

Consumers also expect businesses to know their reason for calling, with 71% believing businesses already know these details; yet, in reality, almost 8 in 10 callers said they are rerouted at least once.

Over half of consumers (53%) also say they need to repeat their reason for calling to multiple agents. Transfers can understandably cause customers to feel frustrated (35%), less inclined to purchase (22%) and cause distrust in the business (16%).

Consumers are beginning to venture out into the world again, though the desire for information and support from real people remains stronger than before the pandemic. Consumers expect patience and empathy from these interactions, so it's critical that businesses' sales, marketing and support teams ensure a smooth and more efficient customer experience. By empowering agents with data and investing in technology that gets customers to the right person right away, businesses can nurture these important relationships, accelerate revenue growth and increase customer loyalty.

The full report is available here.

Survey Methodology
Survey respondents consist of 500 U.S. consumers who have completed a high-stakes purchase in automotive, financial services, healthcare, home services, insurance, telecom, and travel between March 2020 and March 2021. A HIGH-STAKES PURCHASE is defined as one that you take time to weigh options, research, and/or put more thought into before making a decision, due to complexity and/or cost of the item or service. Examples of this include buying a car, home improvements like a new roof, signing up for cable service, insurance policies, mortgages and loans, finding a new healthcare provider or purchasing travel accommodations.