Despite what you might be hearing, the phone is still very popular for consumers when it comes to communications and customer experience (CX) – even with the younger generations. The key message is don’t forget about your phones, and make sure that you have a robust inbound calling strategy as part of your unified communications or contact centre solution.
In a recent consumer survey, 63% of respondents ranked a phone call as their #1 or #2 choice for receiving customer support. Phone calls are the second most popular way of getting in touch with a company for all three age groups surveyed, both before and after a purchase. Eighteen to 39-year-olds cite online chat as their number one preference, while 40-55-year-olds and 55+ have slight preference for web forms.
Unsurprisingly, given the timing of the survey (10-18 March 2020), in-person communication was the least popular way of getting in touch with a company across all demographics. On average, only 5% of consumers selected in-person communication as the preferred way of getting in touch with both before a purchase and after a purchase. In light of the impact of COVID-19, the various lockdowns in place around the world and the uncertain future course of the pandemic, people will continue to prefer remote forms of communication for considerable time to come.
While it’s important not to forget the phone as part of your CX strategy (especially when this is still such a dominant preference for consumers), it’s critical that you continue to refine your omni-channel capabilities. That means managing CX in a unified way across all channels and responding to emails, calls, web forms, chat and social media messages consistently and seamlessly. Ninety-six percent of customers expect their issues to be resolved in a timely manner on the platform of their choice, and the average customer has stopped using a product or service four times in the past year due to bad customer experiences.
When it comes to response times to a voicemail, email or web form, consumers overwhelming expect a response either same or next day. For immediate communications, three in five expect to be able to instant message or ‘chat’ with a company and most respondents don’t want to be kept on hold on the phone past three minutes.
To avoid consumer frustration, make sure you are managing all digital customer interactions on a single platform so that you have consolidated visibility on the response rate across all channels.
From a voice perspective, measure and monitor your average call wait times, and always have enough staff available to answer calls within the magic three-minute mark (or hopefully a lot quicker). Seventy percent of respondents say that being transferred and having to start the conversation all over again is “very annoying”, so set up your call routing and IVR rules to make sure that any inbound calls are answered by the right department or person the first time. And, if they don’t come through to the right person first time, make sure that you are automatically capturing and passing on the caller’s information before transferring them to another department!
We have really just touched the surface in this post with regards to the findings from this report, which goes into great detail based on modes of communication, different industry sectors, consumer demographics and types of activities. While the survey is based on US data, there are a lot of similarities in the way we do business here in Australia, so the report is well worth reading.
Click here to access a copy of the complete 2020 Customer Communications Report