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What Nearly a Decade of Customer Engagement Research Told Us About Making Meaningful Connections

This article was published on August 2, 2021

Since 2012, Vonage has kept a finger on the pulse of consumer communication behaviors and preferences with our annual Customer Engagement Report. This ongoing research has allowed us to track, analyze, and even forecast the evolving customer engagement landscape for nearly a decade.

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We surveyed 5,000 global consumers about their communication preferences twice, in January before COVID-19 hit and then again in August. Using the January study (our ninth) as a benchmark, we were able to capture the effects of the pandemic on customer engagement and measure the vast changes in channel use with the second 2020 edition.

What the data showed us was mind-blowing. We saw more change in those seven months than we’d seen in years: adoption of video and emerging communication channels soared, ecommerce engagement raced ahead, and global fragmentation in channel preferences increased.

But as illuminating as our 10th edition is, a look back at all the research we’ve conducted provides an interesting perspective on what changes have been building—and where they might turn next—since our first report back in 2012. Here’s a retrospective on the key trends that have shaped customer engagement during the past eight years.

Fast-Forward: The Rise and Rise of Video From 2012 to 2020 

In a prescient moment, we signed off our 2012 report with: “What seems clear is, despite years of development and expectation and significant usage, we are still only at the beginning.”

Fast forward to today, and 43 percent of Americans are now video chatting with businesses regularly—more than three times as many as 2012. And based on the average U.S. video chat adoption rate we observed from 2015 through 2020, the U.S. experienced the equivalent of four years of growth in only seven months.

The Empowered Consumer and the Imperative of Choice

Customer loyalty is more precarious than ever in our on-demand world. Organizations have to work hard to win customers and even harder to retain them. Offering outstanding customer engagement across all the channels that customers prefer is key.

To stay ahead of the curve on emerging channels, we expanded the Global Customer Engagement Report year after year. We grew the study from video only in 2012 to include voice, SMS, and messaging by 2015, in-app communications by 2017, AI-driven communications in 2018, and a host of messaging apps in 2020. Where do channel preferences lie today?

  • 23% more consumers chose messaging apps as a top-three method for calling businesses, while all other calling methods (mobile phone, landline, or click-to-call from website or app) lost ground

  • SMS dropped by 23% in consumer preference for messaging businesses; Instagram (+75%), Facebook Messenger (+20%), and Line (+20%) all gained

  • WhatsApp took the top spot as the favorite messaging app to connect with businesses (chosen by 32%); SMS dropped to second place (23%)

Are you ready to meet your customers on these channels in 2021?

Winners standing on the podium ÉTUDE MONDIALE
Les communications multicanal, ou comment proposer une expérience client en or
Votre entreprise est-elle en mesure d'offrir une expérience client de qualité ? Nous avons demandé à 5 000 consommateurs à travers le monde d'évaluer leurs modes de communication préférés. Découvrez leurs réponses dans notre dernier rapport mondial.

Thinking Global, Acting Local

As barriers to global commerce have continued to fall during the past decade, companies have been forced to consider their diverse customer bases. When it comes to how customers from around the world engage and through which channels they prefer to do it, do companies really understand the unique nuances?

To help global businesses navigate these complexities, we expanded our report from the U.S. in 2012 to the UK in 2019 and to 14 countries across four continents in our 2020 report.

What did the data tell us? Communication preferences differ massively—not only based on who the customer is, but where they are. Fragmentation of preferences exploded to the point where virtually no two countries look the same.

Some Things Never Change

Throughout the years, one constant has remained: Customers reward businesses that deliver seamless conversations on all their favorite channels. Is your business prepared to win over and keep customers in 2021? Read the full Global Customer Engagement Report to get all of our insights for navigating emerging communications channels and consumer behaviors.

By Vonage Staff

Staff Writer

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