Phone-Based Customer Care Fails Consumers During COVID-19 Crisis
May 21, 2020
As call centers collapse, long hold times cited worldwide as top challenge preventing consumers from getting in touch with brands, according to LivePerson's survey on The Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Care Response & Remote Work
Over half of consumers say COVID-19 changed how they think about communicating with companies, with 45% saying the addition of messaging and chat options would help answer questions and reduce anxiety.
Alcohol, cannabis, and pet industries topped list as most accessible to consumers.

NEW YORK, May 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN), a global leader in conversational solutions, today announced the findings of its survey, The Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Care Response and Remote Work, examining various aspects of consumer sentiment around how brands responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and how employers implemented remote working.

The April 2020 survey included more than 5,500 respondents from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and Israel and showed that many industries were not equipped to handle the dramatic increase in customer care inquiries.

Survey Highlights

Consumers worldwide report difficulty reaching brands via phone during pandemic.

68% of consumers reported feeling frustrated over their inability to reach a company when needed, with 20% saying some brands they tried to contact were completely unreachable.

Worldwide, long hold times on the phone (experienced by 76% of respondents) were identified as the number one challenge preventing consumers from getting in touch with brands as the crisis hit. Further, 29% reported they were never able to make contact over the phone. 89% of the group reporting long hold times faced waits of over an hour, with 15% reporting waits of over two hours.

Consumers are rethinking how they want to communicate with brands.

Brands that do implement new customer service technologies like conversational commerce — which enables customers to communicate with brands to ask questions, make purchases, and get help using their preferred messaging service — will likely find a receptive audience. More than half (51%) of respondents said COVID-19 changed how they will think about ways to communicate with companies in the future.

Just 37% of consumers said that the companies they were unable to reach provided a chat or messaging option. Almost half of respondents worldwide (45%) say the implementation of messaging and chat would have helped answer their questions and reduce their anxiety.

"With consumers already stressed and anxious due to an unprecedented global health crisis, companies should be firing on all cylinders to provide timely access to critical information and services," said Robert LoCascio, CEO and founder of LivePerson. "Instead, far too many brands across all kinds of industries went dark, proving that the traditional, voice-based factory model of the call center is untenable. It's time to enable agents to work safely while continuing to serve customers over messaging, which can be easily implemented in remote work situations and augmented by the power of automation and AI."

Other Key Survey Findings

Alcohol, cannabis, and pet industries performed better than medical, insurance, travel, financial, and retail.

It was critical for consumers to reach businesses essential to their lives during COVID-19, yet many respondents found industries, of those mentioned, to be "not accessible" or "not helpful."

  • Health and medical-related companies were most important for consumers to first contact as the implications of COVID-19 garnered awareness in the news or through other channels.
  • No industry cited in the survey — retail, financial institutions, medical/health/insurance, travel/hospitality — was deemed "very easy" to reach, with 7% being the highest response.
  • The alcohol, cannabis, and pet industries were considered the "most accessible," with women edging men in this sentiment by 16% and 6%, respectively.
    • The alcohol, cannabis, and pet industries were also deemed the "most helpful," potentially showing a connection between how quickly a brand responds and how helpful that response is perceived to be by the customer.

Respondents said they were as or more productive working from home but faced issues with their employers' tech.

A vast majority of respondents reported feeling as or more productive while working from home and would like to see work-from-home-friendly policies implemented at their jobs. Those who felt their employers weren't prepared to support work-from-home employees pointed to technological hurdles.

  • Of those working from home, 87% of consumers reported feeling as or more productive while working from home compared to the office.
  • 74% would like their company to allow greater flexibility to work from home even after shelter-in-place policies expire.
  • However, 66% of respondents who said their employers weren't prepared to assist in working from home situations cited technology issues or a lack of technology and tools as the primary impediments.
  • 78% of technology decision-makers agree that their company's use of technology will change in the future as a result of COVID-19.
  • 74% of HR decision-makers anticipate their company's work-from-home policies will change in the future as a result of COVID-19.

"It's clear that the nature of work will change as a result of the pandemic, not only due to short-term distancing requirements but also because employers and employees have had their eyes opened to the fact that we can remain productive and satisfied while working from home over the long-term — as long as employers put the right tech and tools in place to support their employees," said LoCascio.

LivePerson's The Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Care Response & Remote Work survey was conducted in April 2020 via an online survey of 5,510 consumers aged 18 and older in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and Israel. Respondents were asked a series of questions related to COVID-19 and customer care topics, such as which industries were most critical to reach during the pandemic and consumer wait times when trying to reach brands, as well as about work-from-home policies and productivity.

Click here to view an infographic summarizing the survey.

About LivePerson, Inc.
LivePerson makes life easier for people and brands everywhere through trusted conversational AI. Our 18,000 customers, including leading brands like HSBC, Orange, GM Financial, and The Home Depot, use our conversational solutions to orchestrate humans and AI, at scale, and create a convenient, deeply personal relationship — a conversational relationship — with their millions of consumers. LivePerson was named to Fast Company's World's Most Innovative Companies list in 2020. For more information about LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN), please visit

CONTACT: Mike Tague, (415) 408-5607,


SOURCE LivePerson, Inc.

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