Customers using more channels than companies
The role of the phone in communication is waning as consumers embrace other social and text-based methods of communication, according to Omnibus pollingi for KANA.
The average UK consumer has used more than seven electronic communication channels in the past six months, putting most customer-facing businesses in the shade. The explosion in social media platforms targeted at consumers in the past 10 years and the ease of adoption are creating headaches for businesses as more consumers take to social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to seek help and air their grievances about poor service.
“People are now much more comfortable with public digital communication and with the security of Web-based communication,” said James Norwood, chief marketing officer for KANA Software. “Even in the 65+ age bracket, in the past six months, the average person has used more than six digital channels. We are seeing many organisations having to rethink their approach to customer service as a direct result of this change. The reality is that many homes today are better at fielding and handling multichannel communication than some call centers.”
“We’re seeing a new generation of hyper-connected consumers, adept at sharing and assimilating input from several sources,” added Norwood. “The difference is that 'new generation' doesn’t mean the young. Hyperconnection applies across all age groups.”
Exclusive Omnibus polling for KANA found that:
* The average UK consumer has used 7.4 digital communication channels in the past six months.
* Amongst 18-to-24-year-olds, this figure rises to 8.4 methods.
* The figure is lowest in the 65+ age bracket, yet even here, the average consumer has used 6.2 digital communication channels, while many UK businesses still rely on as few as three channels: email, phone and a website.
The top six consumer communication methods of polling respondents are:
1. Email (used by 90 percent)
2. Mobile phone calls (used by 83 percent)
3. Text messages (used by 79 percent)
4. Websites (used by 75 percent)
5. Fixed-line phone calls (used by 69 percent)
6. Facebook (used by 67 percent)
“The idea that nine-year-old Facebook is already as pervasive a tool as Bell’s 130-year-old invention is extraordinary and says everything about the rapidly-changing shape of consumer interactions,” said James Norwood, chief marketing officer for KANA Software. “The multichannel household is beginning to expect multichannel services from business, and those that don’t provide them may be penalised.”
According to the research, even Twitter, a relatively new platform, has been used by 24 percent of the UK adult population in the past six months.
One of the most significant findings is the extent to which the 65+ age bracket is comfortably embracing new methods of communication. Traditionally perceived to be late adopters, 93 percent use email, 83 percent the fixed-line phone and more than half of the 65+ age bracket use Facebook (51 percent) and 11 percent engage in online chat.
“We have seen with the recent report from PleasePress1.comii that consumers are unhappy with the way organisations deliver phone-based services,” said Norwood. “Rising levels of consumer comfort with text-based services, such as email, texting and social media platforms, underpin this antipathy. Significantly, this is not a 'young person’s thing.' Our research revealed that more than half of the population aged 65 and over use Facebook, signaling a significant transformation.”