The Daily Telegraph

Wish to register a complaint? Talk to staff instead of chatbots

- By Mike Wright

ONLINE “chatbots” and social media are among the worst ways to complain, Which? has found, while speaking to customer services gets the best results.

A survey of 5,000 consumers found that writing a letter was only marginally less effective than speaking to automated chat systems.

Talking to a a member of staff in person was the most effective way to get redress, closely followed by speaking to someone online or on a videocall.

Retailers are increasing­ly funnelling shoppers who wish to make a complaint towards automated chatbots, with some even removing the option to contact them by email. The Which? study spoke to shoppers who had tried to complain to big retailers across tech, fashion, DIY and homewares during the pandemic from March 2020 to March 2021.

Social media was one of the worst ways, with less than half (45 per cent) describing it as an efficient way to complain. Some respondent­s also reported companies outright ignoring them when they complained on social media.

Chatbots were found to be an only marginally better route for customers, with 46 per cent of people describing it as an effective way to complain. Text messaging was also a bad route, with only 46 per cent of people saying it had prompted a satisfacto­ry response.

Writing a letter was roughly comparable to using social media or a chatbot, with 37 per cent of people saying they found it effective. Which? found the best way to get a complaint resolved is to make it in person to a member of staff, with 65 per cent saying this method had prompted a positive result.

Speaking to someone online or in a video call was equally as effective, with 65 per cent of people also having joy that way. Complainin­g by phone was only slightly less productive, as 63 per cent of people who made a complaint that way described it as effective.

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