A new study shows that millennials prefer live chat over phone and email interactions.
According to a report discussed by professionaljeweler.com, 28.9% of consumers prefer to interact with retailers through online chat (25.85%) or messaging apps (3.1%) while deciding on whether or not to make a purchase. This is driven primarily because most millennial shoppers have embraced new technology such as chatbots and messaging apps.
Together, these chat tools are now more popular than phone conversations (28.7%) and email (27%) as the preferred method of interaction. Many online consumers look for the live chat option when they visit a website.
The survey is based on more than 1,000 consumers. It highlights the important role that millennials are playing in this shift. Among consumers who are 18 to 34 years-old, more than a third (37%) of respondents chose live chat as their favorite way to contact companies. Less than a quarter of the same demographic ranked phone or email as their top choice. More and more new internet users don’t want to pick up their phone. They don’t want to spend time emailing companies back-and-forth either.
As millennial consumers increasingly use more messaging apps in their personal lives, the study suggests that live chat is emerging as a primary communication channel for retailers as well. There may be a day when business owners will no longer provide their phone numbers and email addresses. For that to happen, they need to offer live chat to their online visitors 24/7. We estimate that this shift will soon be required of all success-oriented e-commerce owners.
“Messaging apps (which includes live chat) are incredibly valuable for retailers looking to enhance relationships with consumers, particularly millennials,” comments Scott Horn, chief marketing officer for 7. “With chat technology rapidly evolving, it’s becoming a much more efficient and engaging customer-service channel.”
More than a quarter of consumers surveyed (26%) said they’re open to interacting with a company through a messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or live chat on a website. That number jumps to 39% for millennials. This number will continue to increase as the older generation fades away and a new generation of chatters appear.
The benefits for millennials to interact with retailers through a messaging app or live online chat tool are convenience and ease-of-use, the study says.
It also enables customers to record and review conversation histories. Respondents also say that they feel it would be useful to receive online order updates through a messaging app. Soon, many more customer support activities will be provided through live chat and messaging.
One in 10 millennials reports that they would prefer to always interact with a robot instead of a human while talking to a retailer. But nearly two-thirds of consumers (62%) prefer to discuss purchases with a customer support agent or salesperson. Although bots are getting more human by the minute, I don’t think live human interaction will ever go away completely.
“The most effective uses of chatbot technology will provide effortless transitions to human agents. This will be done through live chat for unique or complex scenarios,” Horn adds. Company knowledge bases and FAQs help answer common questions for consumers. “Consumers still value the human touch in their interactions with retailers. Although AI is improving their customer experience.”