Consumers report that access to live agents makes them more loyal and less likely to switch

By Graham Ede, Yonder Digital Group

Graham Ede
Graham Ede

The banking sector has made huge inroads into improving customer experience with the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) showing that customer satisfaction for the Banks & Building societies sector is the second most improved compared to a year ago.[1] At the same time more and more automation is being introduced in the sector.[2] While automation promises to reduce costs, increase speed of operations and avoid expensive mistakes, its role in customer service needs to be carefully outlined.

Yonder Digital Group has commissioned research into UK consumer views on the role of customer experience in making them more loyal or driving them to defection. The original research canvassing the opinions of 1000 UK consumers, clearly shows that having access to the full range of communications channels -from social media to automated query ‘chatbots’ right through to speaking to a live agent over the phone- encourages customers to stay loyal and even increase their spending (84%). If disappointed in the level of customer experience, 81% report that they would take their business elsewhere.

Technology undoubtedly plays a key role in helping businesses unlock their data to understand customer behaviour and segments, to develop an analytics-based understanding of the customer journey, to developing a clear methodology and measurable KPI structure which systematically tracks, measures and manages the customer experience.  But failing to provide customers with live agent interaction at key stages of the customer journey can make the difference between retaining a customer or losing them. The research highlights that fully 87% of UK consumers report they are loyal and more likely to buy again from a company that is able to provide live agent interaction when they need it. Similarly, 69% will actually defect if a company is unable to put them through to a real person when they have a query.


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Relying exclusively on automated systems such as chatbots and artificial intelligence cannot provide the customer experience that the modern, savvy and highly selective customer expects in isolation from any human agent interaction. Although these solutions are valuable, this latest research confirms that at key stages of the customer journey such as at the point of making a complaint, a non-standard enquiry or an escalation of a query, being able to reach a real person is absolutely necessary.

Respondents further confirmed that speed and efficiency in responding to a query increased loyalty (92%), while lack of rapid response and resolution can cause defection (81%). It is in fact at these critical stages, where resolution or response to a query is demanded, that a live agent, equipped with a full and up-to-the-minute view of customer behaviour across channels, can provide a truly satisfactory and speedy outcome.

Another key piece of intelligence provided by the research regards younger generations. The latter are generally expected to be entirely reliant on social media interactions and highly digitalised, and yet, even younger age group report that in key moments of the customer journey they expect to be able to speak to a real person. The research clearly shows that when there is a problem or an issue that needs clarification, all age bands require live agent interaction.

Automation and technological innovation has an important role to play in customer experience management as it is helping to improve efficiency and speed up processes by providing businesses with data to better understand their customers.Offering access to the business via a range of channels, recording, tracking and understanding customer behaviour on multiple platforms and helping analyse and interpret that data are all achievements that technology can assist with and all from a complete and up-to-the-minute customer view. This intelligence then can be accessed by live agents at key stages of the customer experience journey allowing them to rapidly understand how the customer reached the stage of making a call, their potential frustration and how to rapidly resolve the problem. A better understanding of the customer at the live agent interaction stage helps reduce call-handling times and costs and improves retention.

For more information visit:

[1] UKCSI, banks and Building Societies, January 2017

[2] Business insider, This is what might happen when robots take over banking, 22nd August 2016