Customers of all ages are gravitating toward text-based channels for customer service.
That’s a key takeaway in a new report from customer support platform UJET: “Optimizing Channels for Customer Support”. It is based on an online survey of 500 respondents in the U.S. by market research firm YouGov, and focuses on customer support communications with ecommerce, transportation and food delivery brands.
The report found that, although Millennial and Gen Z younger customers are in the forefront of expecting text-based customer support like texting and messaging, the trend applies to customers of all ages.
Seventy-two percent of all respondents said real-time texting with a live customer service agent would improve their experience, and 70 percent felt the same way about in-app messaging. The report also cites a 2019 study by call center software provider Aircall, which found that 91 percent of consumers prefer brands that provide multiple channels for customer service communications.
Other channels are still popular, however, and the use of chat/messaging is currently still in the minority. Almost half (42 percent) of the respondents across age groups will pick up a phone to talk to customer service, and 32 percent send an email. The report noted that many brands, especially in the ecommerce sector, still support only those two channels.
Twenty-nine percent of all respondents use website live chat, 28% in-app messaging and 25 percent text or SMS. As might be expected, the breakdown differed by age group:
From the UJET report
It also differed by industry. In communicating with an on-call transportation brand like Lyft or Uber, for instance, in-app messaging and chat were the top channels:
From the UJET report
The report also points to the need for brands to move toward the “next stage of customer support,” which it defines as providing an “identical support experience” across channels.
In other words, a customer looking to solve a problem about a product can communicate across one or more channels with the brand, in an experience that calls on the same records about that customer’s purchases and brand contacts, and that has a similar mix of AI and human support — regardless of the channel chosen.
In addition to texting and in-app messaging support, large majorities of survey respondents said they wanted email support, as well as the ability to click a site or in-app button and receive a phone call from an agent at a convenient time.
But more channels are not the only customer service direction desired by customers. The report found that customers want the ability to easily share imagery with agents, so as to explain issues. Two-thirds respondents want the ability to upload and share a photo or screenshots with an agent. Additionally, 43 percent want to log onto an account using fingerprint or facial recognition, and 42 percent would like to chat with an agent using live video.
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