People of all ages, including Millennials, value their mobile phones for conversations more than any other function or feature, according to an Invoca survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers.
While smartphone owners use an average of 27 apps per month, the report finds people identified "calling" as the single most valuable phone function, beating out messaging, social media, email and video.
"We’ve known for a while that people are increasingly contacting businesses through phone calls — driven in large part by the growth of mobile, and particularly by the rise of mobile search," Kyle Christensen, vice president of marketing at Invoca, told eWEEK. "We were surprised by the extent to which people, especially Millennials, prefer phone conversations over other types of interactions with businesses. Even Generation Y, which is known for its reliance on social media, is three times more likely to call a business than to tweet at them."
When using a mobile phone to contact a business, people make phone calls more often than emailing, filling out a form or using social media--and the business' ability to answer can make or break a sale.
More than a third of people search for a phone number for a minute or less before moving on to another company.
Conversely, 80 percent say they are likely to become a repeat customer if they have a good experience on the phone.
"While mobile search has already surpassed desktop search, we still primarily think of phones for calling and computers for clicking," Christensen said. "That’s how it’s always been; with major developments in VoIP, however, voice is no longer restricted to the phone. Apple led the charge by releasing continuity features into Yosemite and iOS 8 that eased the connection between online experiences and phone conversations. You can now have a phone conversation on any Apple device."
On an average day, people use the call function more often than sending emails, updating social media, watching videos or using maps. While 33 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to make calls more than five times a day, the percentage is even higher (37 percent) among Millennials.
"Despite the rise of technologies that help people connect, calls aren’t going away. According to our survey, more than twice as many people have called a business than have used their phone to fill out an online form, in the last month," Christensen said. "This is true even among Millennials. In the not so distant future, that call may come from a phone, watch, tablet or desktop using VoIP technology. Businesses need to start thinking about how to get the same analytics from VoIP interactions as they would from clicks, or else risk losing out on a valuable data set."