Vonage has announced new research revealing that 44 percent of public sector service users have missed an appointment due to communication issues with the organization. This soars to a staggering 70 percent of 18–24- year-olds.
Vonage’s independent survey of 2,000 UK adults who have contacted public sector organizations since the COVID-19 lockdown started revealed that more than a third (36 percent) felt extremely frustrated following their last interaction.
Nearly half of those (46%) attributed this to not being able to make contact through their preferred communications channel. In fact, 27 percent of respondents reported that their favoured channel wasn’t available, despite 71 percent of those questioned stating this would have enhanced their experience.
According to the survey, 88 percent of respondents want public sector organizations to send them important messages directly, with email being the preferred channel for 43 percent, closely followed by SMS (41%).
Twelve percent of 18–24-year-olds would like to be notified via Facebook Messenger, while 15 percent of 25–34-year-olds chose WhatsApp. These figures will likely increase as the younger generation matures.
When asked about their favourite overall channel for contact from public sector organizations, respondents again chose email (33%) followed by SMS (25%). Top reasons cited for email were ‘the message is documented for reference’ and ‘I can easily respond if needed’ (both 47%).
Those preferring SMS chose the channel as they ‘can be reached instantly, anywhere, any time’ (56%) and they are ‘unlikely to miss the message’ (55%).
NHS data shows that missed general practitioner (GP) appointments alone cost the NHS £216 million a year, meaning the annual cost to the public purse of all these missed appointments across the sector is likely to be significant.
David Darmon, Vonage Vice President of Sales for EMEA, commented, “The fact that almost half of those surveyed, and almost three-quarters of 18-24-year-olds, have missed appointments due to these issues points to a growing problem in how the public sector communicates with its citizens.
“Sending out letters may have worked well enough in the past, with only 18 percent of those over 55 having missed an appointment, but preferences are changing rapidly, with our research highlighting that this age group now favour email (46%) and SMS (23%).
“We are at the start of a communications revolution as organizations worldwide accelerate their digital transformation journeys to offer a better customer experience, increasingly recognizing that it’s a key competitive differentiator.
“This research highlights that in an increasingly virtual world, it is essential for public sector organizations to stay connected to service users from anywhere through their preferred communications methods as the demand for exceptional customer experiences has never been greater.”