New research commissioned by the team at KANA Software has revealed the high expectations of consumers operating in a digital world, with data showing that consumers’ patience has, in some cases, decreased from 10 days to 10 minutes in the space of a generation.
The rise of digital devices and social networks reporting in real-time have transformed British consumers’ tolerance of waiting times, with what KANA calls the “expectation reflex” meaning brands and companies are under more pressure than ever to deliver near-immediate customer service responses.
David Moody, head of worldwide product strategy at KANA, said: “Little more than a decade ago, 10 working days was the conventional commitment of businesses and organisations when responding to complaints; and also the span of consumer tolerance. This no longer applies.”
KANA asked a statistically representative sample of UK adults how frequently they checked for communication responses on their devices to discover that one-fifth of all social media users will check for a response at least once an hour, with one in 20 checking every 10 minutes or more.
The most frequently checked devices across all age groups are:
- Email on smartphone – every 36 minutes
- Checking Twitter for replies – every 39 minutes
- Checking phones for texts – every 48 minutes
- Checking for mixed calls – every 49.25 minutes
- Checking PC or laptop for email – every 54 minutes
- Checking Facebook for messages – every 57 minutes
- Checking voicemail – every 1 hour, 5 minutes
The following details the frequency by age with which consumers check for responses on any device:
- 18-24 Every 9 minutes, 50 seconds
- 25-34 Every 9 minutes, 55 seconds
- 35-44 Every 21 minutes
- 45-54 Every 36 minutes
- 65+ Every 47 minutes
- 55-64 Every 1 hour, 30 minutes
KANA’s David Moody explained: “In the past 10 years, organisations have lost the ‘time shield’ previously offered by postal services. The sense that a letter was on a journey and could be anywhere between the sender and the recipient has been lost. Our impression today is that as soon as we press send, ‘Mr or Ms Cosgrove in Complaints’ should be reading our complaint and working out how to respond. If we don’t hear back quickly, our impatience rises.
“Public-facing organisations have to recognise the adoption of social channels is truncating customer service processes. With smartphones acting as digital umbilical cords, the modern consumer is always connected. Unfortunately for service desks, ‘working days’ are an outdated concept.
“Running a customer service operation is as complex as running air traffic control. Reductions in consumer tolerance can and should be met with a level of service that meets revised expectation. The technology already exists to support organisations that wish to monitor all channels and deal with queries and complaints in a rapid and personal fashion. Companies that don’t adjust their processes in the age of the adept digital consumer will be the losers.”
As well as this, KANA’s research also discovered that the average UK consumer has routinely used more than seven digital communication channels in the past year, challenging most customer-facing businesses. The explosion of social media platforms targeted at consumers in the past 10 years and ease of adoption are creating headaches for businesses as more consumers take to social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to seek help and air their grievances about poor service.
The average UK adult spends a “fraughtnight” — or nearly two weeks — each year waiting for service, making complaints and using digital channels to direct their ire at companies that provide poor service.
The average UK consumer has used 7.4 channels of electronic communication in the past six months. Amongst 18-to-24 year olds, this figure rises to 8.4 channels. The figure is lowest in the 65+ age bracket, but even this age band uses 6.2 methods of electronic communication.
The poll found that an astonishing two weeks each year – equivalent to the amount of time typically taken for a summer holiday – are lost by every adult simply trying to get the service they need or expect from private and public sector organisations.