In the final quarter of 2020, the Teleperformance Customer Experience Lab (CX Lab) surveyed 51,919 people from 13 different countries and asked about their experience with companies in 19 different industries. The survey featured a wide array of dimensions and offered insights into channel preferences and brand perception at the end of 2020.
The survey explored which channels customers are using to engage with brands and which they would prefer to use. A gap between these two results can create important insight for brands that want to improve the choice of channels they offer.
Millennials used to be the generation with the highest contact rates, but in this latest edition of the survey, Generation Z has taken the lead. Contrary to what many might expect, it is the younger consumers contacting brands more often and using more channels.
So which channels are customers really using?
Customer engagement has been dominated for many years by Voice calls and Email. Live Chat is growing and has been in third place for several years—more importantly, this is now becoming a common feature of in-app support. In recent years, Mobile Apps and messaging services have also become increasingly important communication channels.
Our survey found that the traditional channels remain strong globally. The top three were:
The data above is reporting the percentage of channel use among consumers who contacted customer service in the past year, which was 61% of the entire survey.
However, it is very interesting to note the channels that experienced the most growth in 2020. All these channels grew year-on-year from 2019 to 2020 by four percentage points:
- Instant Messaging
- Social Media
- Mobile App
Instant Messaging was the single fastest growing channel in 2020. The scale of the increase was a big surprise because it was not just incremental growth. The pandemic forced many brands to consider a change in channel use and the asynchronous nature of Instant Messaging really helped this channel gain ground.
Social Media use was another surprise. From 2018 to 2019, this channel had declined by one percentage point so the general consensus among customer service executives was that social media use for customer service had peaked, but clearly not. The pandemic caused a dramatic spike in the use of Social Media. It’s worth watching to see if this growth continues—Instagram grew eight percentage points year on year.
But which channels do consumers prefer? We can see the channels they use, but is this different to what they actually want and prefer? By analyzing this question, we can help understand future trends and preference.
The top three preferred channels in 2020 were:
Chat with live agent
It is clear that Voice and Email remain the most used and the most preferred channels, but there is an increasing focus on these other fast-growing preferences. The strongest growth in preferred channels is in Instant Messaging, Social Media, and Mobile Apps.
The message is clear: give customers what they want, and they will reward you. By offering your customer the channels they want to use, you increase the opportunity to achieve increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Forcing the customer to use channels they don’t enjoy using has the opposite effect.
Our latest white paper asks many more questions and features a more detailed analysis on channel preferences. Click here to download the CX Lab’s latest white paper “Channels: What Consumers Want Versus What They Get” for free!
CC Photo by Adem Ay