Helpshift Survey Finds 44 Percent of Americans Would Rather Scrub a Toilet Than Call Customer Support

New Data Also Reveals Which AI Technologies Americans Like and Which Are Stuck in ‘Uncanny Valley’

May 31, 2018 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New data released today from Helpshift, the company revolutionizing the customer service industry, looked at what Americans most dread about the customer support experience, how it could be improved, and which industries have the most room for improvement (spoiler alert: it’s telecoms).

The survey also asked Americans which AI technologies they like and which they find creepy or annoying.

Google Duplex voted ‘uncanny’

A full two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans feel that voice-based digital assistants are more unsettling than text-based ones, so it follows that Americans find chatbots and digital assistants likeable, while more advanced AI technologies—including Google Duplex—cross the line into “uncanny valley.”

AI technology Americans most like:

  • Home assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home — 66 percent
  • Digital phone assistants like Apple’s Siri or Android’s Cortana — 65 percent
  • Email and messenger chatbots — 62 percent

AI technology Americans find creepiest:

  • Human-like androids, as in Westworld — 70 percent
  • Future AI assistants, like Samantha from Spike Jonze’s movie Her — 68 percent
  • Google Duplex — 59 percent

Americans would rather scrub a toilet than call customer support

As for customer support in the U.S., a majority of Americans (57 percent) feel that it has not improved in the past few years, and 74 percent agree that contacting customer support is a frustrating experience.

It’s so frustrating, in fact, that many (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 or visit their in-laws; and 24 percent would rather do their taxes.

When contacting customer support, Americans most dread:

  • Long wait and hold times — 60 percent
  • Being transferred and having to repeat the problem over and over — 59 percent
  • Never-ending automated “self-service” menus — 50 percent
  • Difficulties communicating with agents in offshore contact centers — 49 percent
  • Poor levels of service — 41 percent

Telecommunications (51 percent) was again voted to have the worst customer service of any industry, by a wide margin. This was followed by airlines (20 percent) and insurance companies (20 percent).

Robots to the rescue

The survey also revealed the perceived pros and cons of chatbots. Americans’ top pet peeve about them is that they feel chatbots prevent them from reaching an actual human (51 percent), and a majority (77 percent) get annoyed if they have to type more than four responses to a chatbot.

On the other hand:

  • If forced to leave a brand’s website or app to reach customer support, almost half of Americans (47 percent) would take their business elsewhere.
  • Three-quarters (76 percent) say chat-based messaging would be their preferred method of contacting customer support if they knew they would get an immediate response.
  • Ninety-two percent feel it is important to be able to return to a conversation with a customer service agent at a later point and pick up where they left off.

“Americans want customer service that is fast, intuitive and convenient,” said Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift. “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.”

Customer support: what’s next?

Helpshift addresses these problems with its AI-based conversational platform that allows for consumers to get fast, efficient messaging-based support right in the app or website 24/7.

Using Helpshift, brands can offer customers:

  • Live and offline messaging, so customers can contact support and not have to wait around in a browser window
  • Consistent, branded experience across all digital channels
  • Scrollable conversation history so that customers don’t have to waste time re-explaining their problems to each new agent
  • Notifications (such as in-app and push) to re-engage customers who have navigated out of the app
  • Enterprise-grade, native bot builder so that brands can automate complex workflows that previously had to be done manually
  • Instant and personalized support via AI-powered suggested knowledge articles

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of Helpshift in May 2018 among more than 1,000 U.S. adults 18+. The results were weighted to the U.S. census for age, gender, region and income.

About Helpshift

Helpshift bridges the disconnect between conventional customer service channels—like email and phone support—and a growing consumer base that does more on mobile phones and has a strong preference for messaging as the primary mode of communication. Through Helpshift’s AI-powered support platform, companies can resolve issues more efficiently, boosting customer satisfaction in the process. Companies such as Xfinity Home, Virgin Media, Zynga, Viacom, and hundreds of other leading brands use the Helpshift platform to provide messaging-first customer support. Helpshift is installed on two billion devices worldwide and serves more than 130 million active consumers monthly. To learn more about Helpshift, visit helpshift.comand follow @helpshift on Twitter.


for Helpshift
Stacey Grimsrud, 415-271-1028
[email protected]