Financial News magazine recently published some very interesting statistics focused on the channel consumers prefer to use to interact with brands.
Customer service technology consultancy Portal asked 500 UK consumers how they prefer to interact with a brand and email was the first choice. Perhaps this seems rather shocking given the enormous growth in popularity of social media channels in the past couple of years, but I personally think there is some missing data.
The survey results don’t talk about the industry being observed – clearly consumers contacting a dry cleaner might prefer the phone to a Twitter account and those contacting an online bookseller may automatically expect email as the default access method. None of this was mentioned in the results and there was also no mention of demographic differences – with the under 24s being highly likely to use a social network before email. Try reaching a teenager by traditional email today and you can see how fast attitudes are changing.
According to the survey though, a preference for customer service by email is actually increasing. A startling observation, but perhaps the comments made by Portal CEO Shamus Kelly might throw some light on the issue. Kelly said that consumers are differentiating the way they contact brands with email being the default first choice and social networks only being used if the problem is not resolved – specifically to utilize the ability of broadcasting a negative message about the brand if they don’t get it right.
Kelly might be right, but I think that younger consumers are changing faster than the survey suggests. Search for a major brand name on Twitter today and you can see plenty of people making initial contact online and transparently – email might remain popular for detailed enquiries, but the quick questions are being tweeted.
Photo by Keith Ramsay licensed under Creative Commons