Why customer channel preferences aren't clear cutby
Last month, the CMO Council published the results of a study that sought to identify what communication channels consumers prefer to use when interacting with the companies they do business with.
In partnership with Pitney Bowes, the Critical Channels of Choice report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 consumers with nearly equal representation from five generational cohorts - the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers.
Eighty-one percent of the survey respondents were from the United States, and the balance were from Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Australia/New Zealand.
This research focused on all forms of communication except advertising. While this study involved the channel preferences of consumers, it is likely that many of the research findings will also apply to business buyers.
The core finding from this study is that today's consumers across all generations want and expect the companies they do business with to provide multiple engagement channels. Eighty-five percent of the survey respondents said they expect companies to offer a blend of physical and digital communication channels.
More specifically, when survey participants were asked what communication channels they expected companies to provide, the top five channels identified were:
- Email (86% of respondents)
- Telephone (65%)
- Website (53%)
- Text (52%)
- In person (48%)
- "Fast response times to my needs and issues" (52% of respondents)
- "Knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever I need it" (47%)
- "Rewards for my loyalty and recognition of how long I have been a customer" (42%)
- "Always-on automated service" (8% of respondents)
- "Brand-developed social communities to connect with other customers" (9%)
- "Multiple touchpoints that add value to my experience" (10%)
So what does this research tell us about how customers form channel preferences?
G. David Dodd is a consultant and author who has been advising and supporting B2B companies for over 25 years. He works with clients to evaluate major strategic issues and initiatives, develop business and marketing strategies, create authoritative, compelling content, and design effective content marketing programs. He also helps clients...
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I completely agree David, particularly with the second point. It is worth looking at interactions on a 3x3 grid, with the dimensions being urgency, complexity and emotional importance. You need to cover everything from the most complex, urgent and emotionally involved conversations (best achieved over the phone or face-to-face) down to the simpler, more routine ones that can be handled by self-service. A good starting point is to map your interactions on this grid to see where you need to assign resources to meet customer needs.