Customer Engagement shifts to Mobile Messaging

Closing the Brand-Consumer Expectation Gap

As consumer mobile devices are increasingly being used as a portal to customer service agents, it’s becoming essential for brands to adapt their customer engagement strategies to the rapid shift in the communications behaviors and preferences of consumers.
To examine the current customer engagement practices and consumer demands, tyntec sponsored Ovum for a consumer survey and market analysis. Ovum conducted an online survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and Germany, in February 2016. The following are the key findings from the research.
 

Consumers’ Need for Speed

Nowadays, consumers have a low tolerance for waiting and expect a fluid communication experience, especially when it comes to interacting with customer service agents. According to survey findings, the most important priorities for consumers are getting through to an agent quickly (80%), and the speed with which their inquiry is resolved (74%).

Mobile communication channels can play a crucial role in addressing customer inquiries faster, however, there’s a significant gap between consumer expectations and what’s provided by brands across all industries.

Key priorities for consumers in their interactions with customer service agents

Key priorities for consumers in their interactions with customer service agents

Mobile Messaging Preferences

While email and voice are still commonly used communication channels for customer service, the survey uncovered 56% of respondents would like to send an SMS to their customer service agents using the same number they use to call them. The reasons provided by the respondents reveal consumer expectations of SMS as being less time-consuming (44%) and more convenient (42%) than alternative communications forms.

Reasons given by consumers for wishing to send a text to their customer service agents

Reasons given by consumers for wishing to send a text to their customer service agents

The survey results also show that consumers are increasingly interested in using two-way SMS for appointment scheduling (53%), order tracking (48%) and providing feedback (43%).

Consumers are also more readily adopting chat apps as a communication channel for customer service. Eighteen percent of respondents already interact with customer service agents via a chat app, but 50% would be open to being contacted in this way. Problem resolution (57%) and order tracking (54%) are the preferred use cases for chat app engagement.

Mapping Communication Channels to Use Cases

In order to close the gap between consumers’ expectation and what brands provide, it’s important to break it down to each use case—and then applying the strengths of each communication channels to specific use cases.

Oftentimes a single use case can require several communications channels. The strengths of each channels should be mapped against use cases. The survey shows, for example, 53% of respondents prefer to send an SMS (rather than to call) to request or change an appointment.

Consumer use cases for sending SMS to their customer service agents

Consumer use cases for sending SMS to their customer service agents

Demographics Matter

The overall channel preference shifts when segmented by age. The survey reveals a significant difference in channel preferences between millennials and people over 45, with the preferences increased by 16% for SMS and 12% for chat apps among millennials.

Demographics Matter

As the research illuminates, brands will have to apply consumers’ changing communications behaviors into their customer engagement strategies, and start mapping communication channels against specific use cases. With the growing importance of mobile engagement, chat apps and SMS become key to meeting the speed and functionality desired by today’s consumers—and strengthening brands’ omni-channel customer engagement.