Why the human touch is important for customer service

Just yesterday I spent just over an hour waiting on a phone line to talk to my bank. I rotated through the options, pressed the button for the closest department, then the next set of options. I spoke to a couple of automated voices, that did not understand and cast me back to the options. Eventually, I found the button to speak to a human being, joined the queue, and finally timed out.

We have all, depressingly, been there.

When I call a customer service line that takes me directly to a human being I almost weep with gratitude. I really don’t care about incidentals about the person I am talking to, it’s just so reassuring to speak to a real person.

A recent survey from CallCare finds that 78% of people prefer a human voice when they call customer services. And the main reason for this is quite simply that you are more likely to get an answer to your specific question. It’s about recognising and treating customers as individuals.

Companies that make you feel cared about are much more likely to secure customer loyalty. This is particularly the case in industries that are less price-sensitive and with a higher degree of brand association. If you are in a niche industry this kind of close attention to customer care is essential.

When it comes to vocal traits that make customers feel most comfortable it’s a bit like Goldilocks. The British public prefers voices that are neither too deep nor too high in pitch and that are neither too fast nor too slow in their speech.  As you can see from the analysis in the picture below, those that come out as ‘just right’ include Cerys Matthews and Dame Judy Dench. Lorraine Kelly is far too fast, I have to agree, and Barack Obama’s slow pace might help with power dynamics but it would leave most of us drumming our fingers on a call.

Apparently, some accents are more trusted than others. The British public feels more positively about accents from Scotland and the North East of England and less favourable about Scousers and Brummies. So some reprieve for Lorraine Kelly there! Personally, I love all of those accents and places. An accent just tells me it’s a real person from a real place.

For me, it is time to change banks. And in a market where there is very little difference between the price and services on offer, the human touch is a stand-out factor.