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Customer services 2020: Drop the phone!

Last year, Oxxio caused a stir by ceasing customer services by phone. This was because research showed that customers prefer other ways of contacting the company above using the phone. Since 2015, communication by phone had already halved and the number of self-service actions via the new self-service app had increased with no less than 53%.

In December 2017, KPN announced that it would close the customer services department in Eindhoven per 1 January 2018. You can guess the reason for that. KPN’s services department received significantly fewer requests for assistance and, in 2016 alone, the inbound phone traffic reduced by 40%.

KPN and Oxxio are not the only companies that saw their phone traffic drop over the past few years. A study conducted by Dimension Data shows that ‘digital interactions’ now take up 42% of the total number of contact moments of the customer services department. The diagram below shows the curve from 2006 to 2016.

diagram

The new generation is reluctant to have a phone conversation.

Drop the phone. The next generations are reluctant to have a phone conversation. Of course, you can use a phone to call someone, but for the new generations, the smartphone has lots of other interesting applications for social media, photos, online banking, shopping and, most of all, messaging apps. For today’s young people (Generation Y), phone calls are ranked 4th as a contact channel, at a solid distance from other social media and messaging apps, followed by SMS and email. Generation X, born between 1961 and 1989, will also more and more prefer other means of communication than phone calls.

Generations X and Y thus enforce innovative measures when it comes to customer contact. These new generations don’t tolerate waiting times, don’t accept the fact that they have to ask the same question five times to different departments, and they want convenience. When it takes a lot of effort to get an answer to their questions, they can easily move on to another supplier. Convenience equals loyalty!

After Generation Y, we now have Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010). This generation is also called ‘the elusive’ generation. In 2020, this group will be the most important consumer group within the largest markets worldwide. The aspect that distinguishes Generation Z from X and Y is that they are the first real ‘digitally native’ generation. They will become familiar with services and brands that are only available offline and it won’t be long before telephony is something they know from history books, probably in the same chapter as telex and fax.

Using messaging [figures]

The figures above are substantiated by the use of WhatsApp in the Netherlands. A study by Newcom shows that, in 2018, 11.5 million people in the Netherlands are using WhatsApp. 8.3 million of these people use the app daily. Young people (Generations X, Y, & Z) are the main users, as the table shows.

tabel_adoptie-whatsapp-1024x551

Less information is available about the willingness of consumers to send any form of text messages to companies. In 2015 and 2016, Kantar-TNS did publish two reports about this topic. In 2016, 13% of the population in the Netherlands had contact with companies via WhatsApp. 47% of the group who didn’t have contact with companies in this way in 2016, think it to be likely that they will use such channels in the future.

Change is imminent

Overall, customer services will have to change in order to provide the next generations with excellent services (read: convenience). The fact that new channels must be supported may be self-evident, but how do you choose the right channel(s) and handle the technical setup to get a comprehensive and centralized view of your customer? These are interesting questions for which you can simply send a WhatsApp message to SaySimple (or just give us a call).

written by
Joey Drieskens
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The Messaging Agency