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New Study Finds Americans are Frustrated Being Tied Down for Customer Service Help, Would Prefer Text Messaging

In a new study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of OneReach, a cloud-based business communications platform, 81 percent of U.S. adults say they are frustrated with being tied to a phone or computer to wait for customer service help. Among those with text messaging capability, 64 percent say they would prefer to perform some kind of customer service activities with companies through text messaging versus over the phone.

The types of customer service activities people with text messaging capability would most prefer to handle through the channel include:

  • Check order status (38 percent)
  • Schedule or change appointments (32 percent)
  • Make or confirm reservations (31 percent)
  • Ask a question (30 percent)
  • Find a store location (30 percent)
  • Check balances or due dates (30 percent)
  • Refill orders (29 percent)
  • Reset password (27 percent)

Nearly half (48 percent) of people say it would be convenient for them if companies offered a text messaging option for customer service, and 44 percent of those with text capability say they would rather press a button to initiate a text conversation immediately instead of waiting on hold to speak with a live agent.

“These findings should be eye-opening for every company, in regard to both customer engagement as well as their bottom line,” said Rich Weborg, CEO of OneReach. “Text messaging has largely been ignored by companies, except as a marketing tool, but these results show that the majority of customers prefer to engage with them via text. This leaves a huge opportunity for companies to serve their customers through the channel they prefer.”

Text-enabling customer service can also have a positive impact on a brand. Sixty four percent of consumers with text capability have at least one of the following positive reactions to a company that offers SMS as a customer service channel:

  • 41 percent say they feel the company understands their time is important
  • 40 percent say they believe the company is progressive
  • 28 percent say they would recommend the company to others
  • 23 percent say they would stay loyal to the company
  • 21 percent say they would choose the company over others that do not offer the service

Until now, it has been difficult for businesses to incorporate SMS into their contact center. In recent years, technological advances have made it possible for companies to incorporate SMS in nearly the same way they had incorporated IVRs. Solutions like OneReach have made it easy for a business to adopt multi-channel IVRs that automate SMS responses and route text messages to contact centers for live agents to respond to, letting the customer resolve their support issues entirely by text message.

Companies can quickly SMS-enable their current toll-free phone number through Twilio, and then quickly activate the channel by using the OneReach easy-to-use visual design tool to build and manage personalized, customer-facing solutions without the need for custom development.

“If you want to attract and retain customers, you need to provide an excellent customer experience. Part of delivering that experience is enabling your customers to connect with you using their preferred communication method,” said Lynda Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of Twilio. “We’re pleased to be the platform that enables businesses to build the exact communication solutions they need. And we’re pleased to partner with OneReach to offer a complete solution for organizations that don't want to write a single line of code.”

The study found that younger consumers are most likely to embrace text messaging as a customer service option. Seventy six percent of adults age 18 to 34 with text capability say they would prefer to interact with companies through this channel, and younger adults age 18-34 are twice as likely as those 35 and over to stay loyal to a company that offers SMS customer service (34 versus 17 percent, respectively). The majority of all U.S. adults 18 and older who are students – 83 percent – would prefer to use text messaging for customer service rather than the options usually available.

Busy parents with children under age 18 in the household are also more likely to want to perform customer service activities through text messaging (61 percent) over those without children (43 percent).

“We often hear that text messaging is just for young people, and that we don’t have to pay attention to it yet, but in the survey, we saw high responses from all different demographics and age groups who would use text messaging for customer service – including those age 55 and over, people with children, and people who are retired,” said Weborg. “People view their time as valuable across the board, and they don’t want to spend it on hold. In order to provide the best customer experience, this is a channel companies need to be addressing.”

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of OneReach from July 1-3, 2014 among 2,063 adults, ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jill Petersen, [email protected].

About OneReach
OneReach helps companies have interactive two-way conversations with their customers through multiple channels. Using a combination of automation and live agents, companies can easily craft a personalized customer experience using the OneReach platform. Created by a team of customer experience experts, OneReach helps companies enhance their customer service efforts by seamlessly incorporating voice, text messaging, email and other communication channels into a single communications system that increases customer loyalty while decreasing operational costs. OneReach easily integrates with any back-end system without the need for development resources.

For more information on OneReach, call or text 303-974-7351, or visit www.onereach.com. Follow us on Twitter @onereach and LinkedIn.

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