Amid COVID-19, Consumers Prefer Calling Customer Service

Amid COVID-19, Consumers Prefer Calling Customer Service

4 min read

Data shows contact centers need AI and Automation to scale operations and provide better experiences for customers

PALO ALTO, Calif., May 12, 2020 Uniphore, an early Conversational Service Automation category leader, today released survey results that show American consumers overwhelmingly prefer to use voice over every other medium when contacting a company’s contact center. The results underscore a growing need for innovative voice-enabled automation software and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that can eliminate the need to put customers on hold.  Further, advanced technology can also help businesses streamline the customer service experience by predicting customer intent and help to resolve issues quicker – especially during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Key Findings

As businesses and society work through the current realities and unknowns, Uniphore wanted to better understand the types of experiences people are having with contact centers and some of the challenges that both consumers and businesses are facing during this pandemic. In addition to the finding that nearly 80% of people polled want to speak with an agent as opposed to a chatbot, the following key themes emerged and was supported by the data represented below:

Contact Centers are overwhelmed by the wave of inquiries currently pouring in:

  • On top of routine contact center traffic, over 42% of the respondents have recently reached out to a contact center to resolve COVID-related issues around travel, employment, insurance, medical or financial issues.
  • Over 33% of callers waited more than 30 minutes on hold (with 5% saying they waited more than 2 hours).
  • 37% of the respondents had to wait for a call back or ended up calling 2 times or more to connect with an agent.
  • When finally connected with an agent, more than 25% of the respondents spent more than 20 minutes with an agent to get needed information or resolve an issue.
  • Over 18% of recent callers have been disconnected from a call into a contact center and had to call back at least once and in some cases multiple times to be connected.

Customer patience is reaching a breaking point:

  • 72% said they have ended the call while still waiting to speak with a live person.
  • Of those who got through 43% said they felt angry, annoyed or frustrated as a result of being put on hold.
  • 68% said they would stop patronizing companies with which they have had a bad customer experience
  • After their recent contact center experience, people have been underwhelmed and apathetic: 40% of respondents reported they would neither recommend nor not recommend the company they just interacted with
  • On the lighter side, 30% of respondents said they would prefer to deep clean the bathroom than be put on hold.

It’s not all bad: Organizations and agents can be effective:

  • Once they connected with an agent, nearly 60% found the agent prepared with useful information
  • Despite current conditions, nearly 65% of respondents have NOT had a negative experience with company representatives
  • When asked if their interaction with agents yielded timely and relevant information, 2/3 of the respondents replied “yes”
  • On the lighter side, people are able to burn calories while on hold. The number one activity people report doing while on hold is walking around the house or apartment (45%)
  • 74% said they would prefer that a call center have a historical record of their past interactions.
  • 50% of respondents fully expect the organization to have some clue as to why they are calling (intent detection)

“This data shows we are in the middle of a perfect storm. People are reaching out to organizations in record numbers using their voice as a primary means of communicating and they expect to be heard and not put on hold,” said Umesh Sachdev, CEO and Co-founder of Uniphore. “The fact remains that technical innovations can absolutely solve these issues and do it in a cost-effective way by leveraging conversational service automation. This can help ensure every voice is heard by using machine learning and natural language processing to understand intent and automate processes.”

Survey Background

This survey was completed during the second week of April, 2020 as the country continued its lockdown.  The survey was administered online and included a random sampling of 1,000 people from across the United States. 

About Uniphore:

Uniphore is the global leader in Conversational Service Automation with offices in the U.S., India and Asia. The Company’s vision is to disrupt an outdated customer service model by bridging the gap between human and machine using voice, AI and automation. So that every voice, on every call, is truly heard.

Uniphore enables businesses globally to deliver transformational customer service by providing an automation platform where digital agents take over transactional conversations from humans, coach agents during calls, and accurately predict language, emotion and intent. All in real-time. Conversational Automation & Analytics, Conversational Assistant and Conversational Security elevate how enterprises support and engage their customers, build loyalty and realize efficiencies.

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For more details contact: 


Rob Barlow, Uniphore

Mobile: 408.221.1561

[email protected]


India / Asia Pacific:

Nawaz Mohammed, Uniphore,

+91 9980251596

[email protected]





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