Texting Becomes a Preferred Method of Customer Service

Nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed said it would be convenient for them if companies offered a text-messaging option for customer service.

texting and customer service

A majority of U.S. adults say they are frustrated with being tied to a phone or computer to wait for customer service help, according to a report of 2,063 adults conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of OneReach.

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 as opposed to over the phone.

The survey found younger consumers are most likely to embrace text messaging as a customer service option—more than three-quarters (76 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.

"Most people already use texting in a business setting and may not realize it. For instance, we text with our banks, personal trainers and housekeepers, we text with airlines to confirm flights and we even text with Google to reset passwords," Rich Weborg, CEO of OneReach, told eWEEK. "Many times text is already so integrated, we don’t realize we are already doing it. With how busy we all are, getting some extra time back not waiting on hold or tied to a computer is very attractive."

The report also revealed that 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).

Nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed said 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.

The top reasons for customer service activities people with text messaging capability would most prefer to handle through the channel include checking order status (38 percent) and scheduling or changing appointments (32 percent).

The top two were closely followed by the ability to make or confirm reservations (31 percent), ask a question (30 percent), find a store location (30 percent) or check balances or due dates (30 percent).

Refilling orders (29 percent) and the ability to reset a password (27 percent), were among the top areas where consumers felt text messaging would provide an improvement in customer service.

The survey indicated text-enabling customer service can also have a positive impact on a brand, with just under two-thirds (64 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.

"We believe that customers will choose a channel based on what is most appropriate for what they are trying to accomplish and their channel preference," Weborg said. "For instance, texting works well when you want to multitask, are in a noise-sensitive environment or simply don’t want to talk to someone."