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nice-channel-interaction-with-svc-providers-june2012.pngMillennials (aged 18-30) are using more channels than ever to contact financial service, telecom, travel, insurance, and healthcare providers, and they are spurring adoption of alternative channels such as SMS, smartphone applications, and social networks, finds a [download page] NICE Systems survey of US, UK and Australian consumers released in June 2012. On average, 18-30-year-olds have used 6.3 channels to interact with service providers, compared to 5.2 for 46-65-year-olds. And on a monthly basis, the younger set is using an average of 3.6 channels to contact providers, compared to 2.2 for 46-65-year-olds. In fact, between one-quarter and one-third of Millennials say they are frequently using channels such as: live chat or virtual assistant on websites; SMS; smartphone apps; service kiosks; social networks; and online communities sponsored by providers.

Web is Leading Interaction Channel

Even so, providers’ websites remain the most common way for customers to seek assistance. 55% of all respondents said they use their service providers’ website at least monthly, and more than one-quarter do so on at least a weekly basis. Looking at other channels used at least monthly, the most common after websites are a live representative via phone (33%), a physical location or branch (32%), email (30%), standard mail (30%), and an automated phone system (28%).

Interestingly, according to a Maritz survey also released in June, consumers of all ages are more likely to say they prefer to email a company than call it, with 25-34-year-olds most likely to indicate this preference (52% vs. 24%). Potential reasons for this different result include: the NICE survey being limited to service provider contact methods; the Maritz survey measuring preference rather than usage; the Maritz survey identifying a more limited set of interaction methods; and the 2 surveys being fielded over different periods of time.

Smartphone App Interactions Grow in Usage

Further data from the “2012 NICE Consumer Channel Preference Survey” indicates that consumers are turning to new channels at an increasing rate. 43% say that they are using smartphone applications more than 2 years ago, while 40% say the same about social networks. Traditional methods are also gaining in use, though, with service provider website (39%) and email (34%) interactions both growing for a significant proportion of consumers.

Of note, overall, 86% of respondents said they are interacting either more often or at the same level with their service providers when compared to 2 years ago. In fact, standard mail is the only channel to see a larger proportion saying they use it less than more (19% vs. 17%).

Other Findings:

  • Respondents report being successful in accomplishing their tasks 71% of the time when contacting a representative via phone, compared to 65% of the time when using a service provider’s website. Consumers appear to have more success with live representatives as compared to websites when contacting healthcare, insurance, and telecom providers, and less success when contacting financial services providers. They are about evenly split when it comes to travel.
  • Close to 3 in 5 respondents try to bypass the automated phone system to reach a live representative, while more than one-quarter (31% among Millennials) say they are likely to get frustrated and hang up.

About the Data: NICE collected survey responses in the Fall of 2011 from nearly 1,200 people between the ages of 18 and 65, living in major metropolitan areas in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The survey focused on their interactions with providers of financial, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, healthcare and insurance services. Respondents were allowed to respond for up to two service provider experiences (e.g., telecom and insurance providers), bringing the total of survey responses to nearly 2,000.

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