How Customers Prefer to Contact Businesses

customer service statistics
With chatbots, text messages, messenger, and so on, it has become increasingly easier for customers to contact businesses. So, what do they prefer? We’re going to share our findings with you, and some important takeaways to ensure you’re offering the channels customers want to see.

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Read the Full Discussion Below

Sarah: Today we’re talking about, how do customers prefer to contact businesses? A pretty important question, because let me tell you, it’s not only pricing that wins over customers these days but customer service. So, you got chatbots, you’ve got text messages, you’ve got messenger and so on, so it’s really becoming increasingly easy for customers to get in touch with businesses. So, what do they prefer? So, we’re going to talk about all the different ways available for customers, what they like best and some important takeaways to ensure that your business is offering the right tools to communicate with your customers. So, let’s get going.

Glyna: Welcome to Marketing and a Mic. Sarah and I are here today to talk to you about a digital marketing subject and I know we’ve got a great one today, don’t we?

Customer Age Drives Preference

Sarah: Oh, we sure do. So, in a recent survey from Leadferno, they actually published a really awesome article. It showed all the different methods available to communicate with businesses, like text, live chat, messenger, social media. And believe it or not, this is what was really interesting to find, which is our first take away is that, consumer age, sort of, drives a communication preference and I’m going to give you some stats to prove this point. So, it showed that the most popular method to contact businesses was between… I’m sorry, the most popular method was social media with consumers between the ages of 25 and 34. So, that may not be a little bit of a surprise or not to you but nearly 59% of customers 55 and up, overwhelmingly preferred to contact a business by phone.

Glyna: Yes. We just heard that thing called a phone.

Sarah: Yes.

Glyna: That you actually talk on, that you can do other things besides text and message. But anyway, that’s kind of cool. And another fun fact is, 65% of people that are aged 18 through 34, believe that social media is an effective channel for communication and customer service. So, they’re looking there, not just on the phone, while 75% of people age 55 and over, they’re not really wanting to talk to you on social media or messaging or anything like that.

Sarah: Isn’t that wild? So, what should be the key takeaway of these stats? Well, if your customer base is made up of an older demographic, then it’s extremely important that you have those communication channels in place. So, make sure that your business has a real person that they can call on the phone and speak to during business hours. But on the flip side, if your target market is more millennials or generation Z, make sure that you have several digital forms of communication available, like on social media, messenger, and text. Really crazy.

Glyna: Yeah. It’s so funny to me because the younger generation likes all that digital stuff yet, they are very, very customer service driven.

Sarah: Yes.

Glyna: So, we’ve talked about that before, I just think that’s interesting. So, according to another survey from Microsoft, 63% of millennials will begin their customer journey online. And one in two will definitely complain on social media or leave a bad review. So, you have to make sure that customer service is there.

Sarah: You’re right. I mean, they may not want to talk on the phone, but boy, they want to still have that same level of customer service. And if you don’t deliver it, they will be right there complaining about it on social media, leaving a bad review. But on the flip side, 55% of this younger generation actually will praise a brand on their customer service level, if it is a really high-quality customer experience. So, the ease of communication is an extremely important factor with younger generations, and the ease of communication, what that really means is having multiple outlets for them to communicate through. And also, the other takeaway is, they aren’t afraid to call you out or praise your business because of it.

Glyna: That’s true. Versus, I guess, it would be worse if all they want to do is complain. But I do think that they give a fair shot and they like to really talk about places and businesses that have given them good service too and share that.

Sarah: Yes, yes, recommendations, that’s for sure.

Stage of Buying Impacts Preference

Glyna: That’s pretty cool. So, here we go. The stage of the buying journey impacts what type of communication people prefer. So, you’ve got to think about this. How does your business interact with customers when trying to resolve an issue or answer questions? Because despite the advancements in email, chat services, and all of those things, phone calls are still the best means of dealing with something with people that have an immediate concern, especially complaints, and that’s across all ages.

Sarah: And I think we can identify with that. When you’re having an issue or concern, you really want to try talking to a person straight away. But that being said, nearly three-quarters prefer texting as a means to communicate with businesses, provided a real person is texting back. And that was a survey done from Podium in 2021. So, half of these customers said that they’d be more likely to respond to a text if they knew if the person actually introduced themselves so that they felt like they were dealing with a live person. I’ll tell you, I can attest to that because even when I do my grocery cart delivery, I like when they say, hi, this is Caleb, I’ll be doing your shopping. And I feel like, okay, even though they’re texting me, I’m talking to a real person, so I have a lot more confidence.

Glyna: Yeah. And I think people lose interest and they’re getting tired of the chatbots and all of that a little bit because, especially when businesses are closed, when you want an answer, I hate those things that take you to another question and another question and another question. Anyway, I have to move on but I want a real person too. So, what’s a take away from this? All right. Although communication, again, has taken on many forms over the years, customers still prefer that real person, just like we talked about, especially when handling disputes, payment issues, troubleshooting answers, when the problems come up, they want somebody to answer to it. Consumers also value text messaging with small local businesses as long, and again, how many times can we say this, that it’s handled by a real person. Not the robots, not the chatbots, all of that.

Sarah: Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. When you’ve got that chatbot and you’ve put out your question and then they’re like, did we answer? Was it helpful? And I’m like, no. And then they’re like, here are three articles that maybe help. I’m like, I don’t want to read an article, I want to talk to somebody.

Glyna: That’s not working.

Sarah: Yeah. I’m like, was that helpful? I’m like, no, it was not. But anyways. All right. So, let’s talk about this too. So, we talked about more complex customer service issues and what that preference is. So, if it’s a simple customer service task, we’re… The majority of the customers actually prefer the automated self-service option, such as a website or a mobile app and that makes sense. So, over half these consumers say that the main reason and I love this, I love this little bit of stats, the main reason they cannot resolve an issue on their own is because there’s too little information available on a company’s website, that is why it’s so important. They’re going to go to certain places to try to get their answer and if your answer is not available to them or a way to contact them, they’re going to be frustrated.

Glyna: That’s exactly right. So, what’s the best thing to do right now? Take a look at your website, take a look at it from a user’s perspective. I mean, how complex is it to maneuver? And how do you resolve issues with your business? Can it be handled through quick messaging or can you provide a real person to provide that optimal customer experience that your customer or prospect expects? So, kind of, take a survey of your own thing that you have going right now.

Text Messaging vs Live Chat vs Messenger

Sarah: Yeah. I think that’s a great point because again, it’s like, look at the complexity of resolving issues as you said. Is it something that’s pretty straightforward, to where they don’t really need a live person or to wait on hold or to get something? They could just go online and, kind of, handle the process that way. But if not, if it’s something that is more complex and it does require a human, well, of course, make sure that you have that in place and have those options on your website, because my gosh, do not make them have to navigate all over the place and then get frustrated. So, we talked about various different types of communication. So, let’s talk about something that’s coming up a lot, which is a text messaging versus live chat versus messenger. So, comes down to all these messaging methods, we’ll say, so which is, sort of, trending upwards? So, you would be surprised to hear that, according to Leadferno’s recent survey, text messaging has increased nearly 11% from 2020 and actually 20% from 2019. So, from 2019 to today, we’ve seen a 20% increase overall in text messaging as a communication preference. So, this uptick, my take away from this would be a good indicator that text message is steadily making their way into customer service worlds and something that they don’t mind.

Glyna: Yeah. I love this. I love that part of it. More businesses though, right now, are offering two-way texting as a communication channel, so they’re, kind of, catching onto this or if you are not catching onto it, you need to, because this is going to enable your users to have an actual conversation with the business or with your business. So, another surprise from this survey was that text messaging is actually distancing itself from live chat or messenger, which I was kind of surprised by.

Sarah: Me too. I know.

Glyna: I mean, messenger actually took a 6.5% drop in 2020, versus text messaging, so that’s, kind of, interesting.

Sarah: Yeah. And this was just something I was thinking about too, are you also thinking about all those spam stuff that you get. And I don’t know for sure but maybe the text messaging, when it’s actual live person, it does feel a little bit more trusting, who knows? But the survey did conclude that one in four customers prefer text messaging to operate with businesses, which tells us that the human element being added to texting is becoming a greater benefit to consumers because we still feel like we’re having a conversation.

Glyna: Yes.

Sarah: So, that’s important.

SMS Content That Consumers Want

Glyna: Yeah. So, the type, though, of SMS content consumers want, we have to talk about this. So, as we mentioned earlier, the age of the customer in the stage of buying journey influence how consumers do prefer their communication. So, since text messaging is trending to be on the rise, let’s take a look at the type of content that consumers are really wanting via those text messages.

Sarah: Yeah. Because like anything, you don’t want to be bombarded with something that’s just going to make you be like, this isn’t even anything I want and then, next thing you know, you’re texting “stop”.

Glyna: I know. Stop, stop, stop.

Sarah: Okay. So, the top marketing messaging customers like to receive is promotion. So, 64% of those surveyed said, they would like incentives, they don’t mind receiving incentives via text messages. What are incentives? We’re talking about promo codes, we’re talking about discounts, we’re talking about coupons from local businesses. And this is, kind of, followed by loyalty offers or benefits of like, hey, join now and save this. So, if that comes in through a text message, it’s non-intrusive enough and it gives us an instant benefit that we’re willing to dive into it.

Fusion One Marketing’s Tips

Glyna: Yes. And I love this next one, especially right now where people, their inventories are low and supply and demand’s low right now in the world all over, for every type of product and service. But 35% of customers said that they like the feature to receive a back-in-stock message,  or invitations from upcoming events. So, people are out of stock with a lot of stuff, so let people know when you have it or send them an invitation to your event. The takeaway from this is that customers are responsive to the text messaging particularly… Particularly, still didn’t get it out. What are we covering? Live people, make sure you have a live person involved.

Sarah: Yes. Make sure, yes. Don’t you love that? I love it because I feel like it’s a more personalized experience. And again, I talked about my grocery shopping, which I don’t have time to go grocery shopping, so I like to do it all online. And I love it when they’re telling me like, this is out of stock, would you like this? Or da-da-da-da. And I just absolutely love it because it’s personalized and we all love that. So, let’s talk about just, sort of, the key takeaways from all these statistics that we’ve just shared with you. So, the first thing, offer several forms of communication and we talked about it at the top of the show, that who your demographic and who your target audience is, is a good indicator of what type of communication they prefer. But that being said, out of all customers, so out of all customers, nearly 60% begin their shopping experience online, so that’s important. So, whether they’re of the older generation or the younger, they still begin online, overwhelmingly. So, 66% of these consumers use, at least, three different communication channels to contact businesses. So, think about that. Off all of them, they’re going to go online but some of them are going to start this way, some of them are going to start that way. So, what this tells us is that convenience is the key. So, knowing your customer and offering several different forms of communication is really going to be the best way to deliver a great experience for them.

Glyna: Exactly. And the next thing, number two, take it a step further, you want to dive into omnichannel marketing. What’s that mean? I mean, amazing technologies are coming around and emerging and changing the ways that people communicate with businesses. Omnichannel marketing provides the ability, and I know some people don’t like this and think it’s creepy and weird, but you can gather data about your customer in order to personalize every interaction that they have with your brand. So, they feel like they know you better. Understanding and even acknowledging what they want and need enables you to… I mean, you’re going to be able to provide a better buying experience and I think that helps win them over, a lot of times.

Sarah:I do too. And I know it, kind of, seems intrusive but truly, when you feel like your things are being remembered and stored and you can go right by back to where you left off, to me, I think that’s such a convenience. We’re so busy, I don’t want to start all over.

Glyna: Exactly.

Sarah: And finding me where I’m at, if I’m online here and you just pop up right there, I like it because it’s just a gentle reminder to help me and just personalize it. So, I think it’s a good, good thing. Now, this is the third tip that we want to bring to you which is, we say it over and over again because we still see it all the time, but make sure that you have a mobile responsive customer service portable. Because here’s the thing, 79% of millennials interact with businesses by their mobile device, 79%. A third of all customers use their mobile devices to initiate contact with customer service. Because you think about, if you’ve got something going on, you’re just going to pick up your phone and want to go straight to customer service. So, whatever communication channels you create, please make sure that they are responsive on every single device.

Glyna: I can’t even believe we have to still talk about that. But it’s true.

Sarah: It is.

Glyna: I came across a nonresponsive website last week. Anyway, make sure that it is user-friendly and that has to be mobile. And number four, know your customer. Oh my gosh, I know, we sound like a broken record but knowing your customer is essential. I mean, it just is in every aspect of your market, including what we’re talking about today, which is communication, how are you reaching them and getting back to them? So, take inventory of your demographics, of your customers, you got to know who these people are, who’s buying your stuff and then, align everything and all of your channels around that.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. You got to do that research so that you know where to find them and you got to make sure you’re making it easy on them. So, that’s a wrap for us. And as a reminder, we just want to let you know that we go live every week on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn and you can catch the replay on Instagram. And if you’re watching and listening to our podcast, please make sure you subscribe and drop us a review if you’re enjoying it. And as always, you’ve got our YouTube channel, Fusion One Marketing, so make sure you subscribe to that too, so that you can keep getting ongoing content that we put out on digital marketing.

Glyna: Yes.

Sarah: Yeah. So, that’s a wrap and we will see you all next week.

Glyna: Bye.