Last year witnessed a rapid migration to digital technologies and yet new research shows people prefer to call a business. In fact, sixty-eight percent of shoppers prefer to communicate with businesses over the phone versus 13 percent of those who prefer to do so via chatbot, according to Invoca’s inaugural “Buyer Experience Benchmark Report.”

Invoca’s 2020 research echoes a similar sentiment. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making high-consideration purchases—which one-third of people did during the pandemic—versus buying directly online.

These conversations, if done right, can leave an overwhelmingly positive impression on consumers, as Invoca’s research suggests. Half of consumers actually believe that agents are more helpful now than before March 2020. And based on these positive interactions, Invoca notes, 44 percent of respondents feel more positively about these brands and 45 percent feel their business is valued.

The primary reason consumers prefer calling a business is to gain more information about a product, as 44 percent of consumers noted. For another 30 percent, they feel most comfortable completing high-stakes purchases on the phone.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they’d most likely purchase travel-related services over the phone, while just 18 percent would buy a car on the phone. Nevertheless, 60 percent of shoppers will call a business at some point during their car-buying journey, Invoca found.

Thoughtful, detailed product pages, FAQ sections and a strong website overall should be top of mind for brands as 33 percent of consumers said they’re most likely to call a business because they couldn’t find what they were looking for online during their automotive search; the same number of shoppers of financial services expressed that frustration. Thirty percent of those shopping for healthcare services had the same complaint.

Other factors driving away customers? Long wait times, transfers and repetition. According to Invoca, 75 percent of consumers hang up after hearing a message about long wait times. A callback option isn’t viable for just 5 percent trust in the automatic feature.

Over half (53 percent) of consumers said they need to repeat their reason for calling to multiple agents. It’s in a business’ best interest to reduce transfers because it makes 35 percent feel frustrated and 45 percent feel the business is effective when they catch the right agent the first time.

After a phone call, people prefer to communicate with businesses via email (55 percent), in person (40 percent) and via live agent chat (33 percent). Chatbots are a last resort (13 percent).

Invoca’s findings are based on a survey of 500 consumers about purchases in automotive, financial services, healthcare, home services, insurance, telecom and travel.