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A new study from Intercom shows the stakes are high for customer support and overall customer experience (CX) this holiday season. 

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults revealed 64% would leave a business if they didn’t feel valued in a support interaction — only falling behind not having their issue resolved (66%) and getting ghosted by a support representative (65%). Feeling valued and respected is even more important than a quick response (61%). 

The survey also showed consumers from Gen Z to Baby Boomers prefer digital channels like text and direct messaging to the phone. However, there are striking generational differences in the tone and style that lands well. 

Customizing CX by generational preference

For instance, younger generations are twice as likely as older ones to want companies to use emojis and GIFs. Overall, consumers prefer professional language (56%), but 61% of Gen Z respondents prefer a casual approach, signaling that businesses will need to adapt as younger generations become primary buyers. 

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Image source: Intercom.

“This study underscores that the best way to keep customers is to make your communication more personal. Consumers choose to spend their money where they feel valued, and how businesses support and talk to them is a huge factor,” said Intercom cofounder and chief strategy officer, Des Traynor. 

Avoid cringe

According to the survey, acknowledging a customer’s purchase history is more powerful than surface-level niceties. Knowing their history was rated by 66% of respondents as among the top three factors that show they are valued vs. using their first name (45%) or friendly greetings (44%).

In fact, support agents using cringe-worthy language (41% — think misused slang), trying too hard with inauthentic communication (35%) or using too many emojis (28%) will cause consumers to take their business elsewhere.

As advances with OpenAI’s ChatGPT expand possibilities for AI chatbots, the study found people prefer chatbots and online chat for answering a quick question (49%), confirming an appointment or delivery time (37%), or canceling an order (30%). 

In the study, airlines ranked lowest for customer support satisfaction, with only 6% of respondents rating airlines’ customer support experience the best. Healthcare and financial services ranked highest.

Wakefield Research conducted the study for Intercom via a November 2022 online survey of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults 18+.

Read the full report from Intercom.

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