In this expansive age of daily and hourly digital experiences, one would think that is where consumers gravitate toward for the excellent customer experience. Not so fast, according to customer experience improvement firm CX act, which surveyed more than 3,000 consumers.

According to the survey, 71% of respondents indicated they’d prefer to make contact with businesses via offline methods.

What’s more, over half (56%) prefer to make complaints to a live agent via telephone compared with just 22% that preferred email. Those that wanted to compliment a business preferred email compared with 22% who would choose to telephone to make such a compliment.

Here’s an eye-opener: Despite the hype of social media being the contact channel of choice, just 5% of respondents said they used social media, mobile apps or live web chat to make a complaint or ask questions of a business.

“To win on the customer experience margin, brands must understand the preferred method of contact from their customer base and seek out opportunities to constantly improve those channels,” Crystal Collier, CEO, CX Act, said in a press release. “This new study provides a first glimpse at analyzing and understanding preferred methods of contact and associated methods of customer satisfaction and loyalty−all critical bottom-line drivers.”

Here are some more key takeaways from the survey:

Effective Contact Handling Impacts the Bottom Line: Customers satisfied

with how their contact was handled are MORE likely to continue to remain a

customer than those who were dissatisfied with contact handling

Despite Digital Growth, Customers Still Prefer the Personal Touch: Contacting via phone is considered the most effective channel for resolving issues, with little difference by industry

Asking Questions Dominates the Customer Reach-Out – 2:1 Ratio of

Complaints to Compliments

Customers Contacting about Bills and Financial Issues: Five of the top six most contacted industries are either in the financial industry or have a large percentage of their contacts related to billing

Only Half are Satisfied, Personal Touch Prevails: Only half of surveyed customers are very satisfied with how their complaint/question was handled

More than half (57%) of customers tell someone about their contact experience, with 70% sharing “generally positive” comments. Even those who contact with a complaint/issue are more likely to share positive comments than negative comments about their experience, the survey shows.

What’s more, 85% of those who talk about their contact experience tell others in-person

50% via phone

Another 28% talk about their experience via email/text messaging/IM

22% turn to social media to share the details of their contact experience.

Of those that share their experiences via social media, most were via Facebook (86%), followed by Twitter (21%). Twitter followers are more engaged and are more likely to comment on posts than Facebook followers.

The survey offered the following recommendations regarding how to drive the optimal contact experience:

While companies can’t ignore the need to offer a multichannel strategy and digital channels are likely to grow in importance (especially since younger consumers are more likely to use digital touchpoints), what matters NOW for creating an optimal customer contact experience is providing a phone or in-person customer interaction that delivers on the brand promise.

Customers provide the greatest guidance on how to do that. Overall, they identified the phone as the most effective channel for resolving issues, with little difference by industry. When asked the reasons they prefer to contact a company via phone vs. digital contact methods, the most frequent reasons are:

1. Prefer a live person (42%)

2. Able to explain the situation with more detail (28%)

3. Able to ask questions (26%)

4. Faster response (26%) 

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