Majority of U.S. Consumers Favor Texts over Phones for Customer Service



Eighty-one percent 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 new poll from Harris conducted on behalf of OneReach, a cloud-based business communications platform.  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 versus over the phone.

The types of customer service activities people with text messaging capability would most prefer to handle through the channel include:

  • Check order status (38 percent)
  • Schedule or change appointments (32 percent)
  • Make or confirm reservations (31 percent)
  • Ask a question (30 percent)
  • Find a store location (30 percent)
  • Check balances or due dates (30 percent)
  • Refill orders (29 percent)
  • Reset password (27 percent)

Nearly half (48 percent) of people say 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.

"These findings should be eye-opening for every company, in regard to both customer engagement as well as their bottom line," said Rich Weborg, CEO, OneReach, in a statement. "Text messaging has largely been ignored by companies, except as a marketing tool, but these results show that the majority of customers prefer to engage with them via text. This leaves a huge opportunity for companies to serve their customers through the channel they prefer."

Text-enabling customer service can also have a positive impact on a brand. Sixty four 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. Additionally:

  • 41 percent say they feel the company understands their time is important.
  • 40 percent say they believe the company is progressive.
  • 28 percent say they would recommend the company to others.
  • 23 percent say they would stay loyal to the company.
  • 21 percent say they would choose the company over others that do not offer the service.

The study found that younger consumers are most likely to embrace text messaging as a customer service option. Seventy six 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 to 34 are twice as likely as those 35 and over to stay loyal to a company that offers SMS customer service (34 versus 17 percent, respectively).

The majority of all U.S. adults 18 and older who are students, 83 percent, would prefer to use text messaging for customer service rather than the options usually available. Busy 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).

“We often hear that text messaging is just for young people, and that we don’t have to pay attention to it yet, but in the survey, we saw high responses from all different demographics and age groups who would use text messaging for customer service – including those age 55 and over, people with children, and people who are retired,” said Weborg. “People view their time as valuable across the board, and they don’t want to spend it on hold. To provide the best customer experience this is a channel companies need to be addressing.”