46% of 16–24-year-olds have said a brand’s ability to engage with them via social media is important, compared to 16% of 55 and overs.
The survey from Enghouse Interactive, polling the views of more than 2,000 adults across the UK, also found that only 9% of respondents in the 16–24 age bracket said engaging with a brand using online communications was not important to them at all – this figure rises to 41% among the 55+ category.
The research also revealed a split in the way the public use different communications methods. Email was the preferred method of business engagement with nearly half of respondents (46%) referencing it, almost twelve times the proportion citing social media (4%).
While the social media revolution may be dramatically changing the way we communicate with each other, when it comes to engagement with brands, a social takeover appears to be some way off. The majority of respondents (54%) claimed that it is not important that the brand they are dealing with can engage with them over social media. This finding should give any business basing customer service solely on channels such as Twitter and Facebook food for thought.
Yet, when it came to actions taken as a direct result of poor customer service, a significantly larger proportion (17%) said they would spread the message on social media rather than via email (11%).
The age split came to the fore again in assessing an individual’s preferred method of engaging with a business or a brand. Among the 55 and over age range, email is the preferred communications option, with more than half the sample (52%) favouring it. Among 16–24-year-olds, however, it is only the fourth favourite option, referenced by just 17% of the group and therefore trailing behind smartphone (25%), self-service via company website (23%) and social media (18%).
Whatever the preferred interaction method, the public prizes customer service highly when it comes to buying from a brand. 42% said they usually or always based their decision to buy solely on the organisation’s reputation for customer service, rising to more than half (52%) of 16–24-year-olds.
“Our survey findings are polarised around age. The lesson is that a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work in today’s complex market. Businesses need to know their customers and deliver services tailored to their needs,” said Jeremy Payne, International VP, Marketing, at Enghouse Interactive. “If your business model is predominantly online or you’re marketing to a young audience, you’ll want to offer social media engagement. If you are mainly engaging with older consumers you should focus on traditional channels. And if your market is a mixture of both, you’ll need a broad solutions offering, encompassing traditional voice-based telephony and the latest online solutions.”