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Survey: Consumers Would Switch to Brands That Text Back

A growing consumer preference for texting versus talking might be having an effect on retail.

Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults would switch to a company that offered communication via text, especially as a form of customer service, according to a new survey released by Avochato, a business-to-consumer communication specialist.

Consumers, it seems, are fed up with annoying phone trees and the lengthy lag in getting a customer service representative on the line. More than 90 percent of those surveyed expect to wait five or more minutes any time they need to speak with a real person when attempting to resolve an issue. Person-to-person communication is still the overwhelming favorite when it comes to customer service, despite or perhaps due to the influx of bot-powered customer relations.

“Accessibility and communication mean higher returns and greater customer satisfaction for companies,” Avochato said. “Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents are more likely to purchase from a shopping site communicating with them about their products in real-time, with a real employee, via chat messaging.”

Adopting a personal, text-based approach to consumer communication may even have the added benefit of increasing overall traffic, as the survey of 1,000 U.S. adults with smartphones also found 63 percent would recommend their friends switch to a website that makes use of the channel.

However, when it comes to communicating information regarding deals and promotions, the enthusiasm was a little more muted. Just 39 percent described promotional texts as “helpful,” though that number was higher than the amount (36 percent) that approved of something as innocuous as food delivery texts.

There was another clear message from consumers, however: don’t waste your time calling, they won’t pick up.

“Consumers expect personal communication from the companies they are doing business with, yet with scam calls becoming more prevalent than ever, over three-fourths of respondents don’t answer phone calls from anonymous numbers,” the survey warned. “As younger generations continue to move away from email, it’s never been harder for companies to effectively reach their customers.”

And regardless of age, 69 percent of all consumers would rather receive a text than a phone call from an unfamiliar company, Avochato noted.

Many of Avochato’s insights can be explained by the increasing purchasing power of millennials and Gen Z and their overwhelming desire to tap out a message rather than talk.  The generation gap was so vast that certain survey questions differed by nearly 20 percent between Gen Z and baby boomers, the company said.

At a PSFK event in January, experts and business leaders also recommended that retailers begin to work texting into their customer-facing operations. Adam Levene, founder of retail tech platform Hero, said having in-store associates texting e-commerce customers is a “no-brainer,” considering their higher level of knowledge and engagement in the brand’s day-to-day activities.

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