SURVEY: How Do Consumers Want To Contact A Business?

Making communication easy leads to a great customer experience. Our survey looks at consumer contact choices like calls, texts, emails, web forms, chat and Facebook Messenger.

By: Aaron Weiche - Dec 1
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contact a business

If you are focused on making communication with your business easy, you need to make sure you are offering the channels consumers want to use to ask questions or buy from you. We surveyed 1,000 consumers in November 2020 and now in November 2021 to see what their preferences are and how they might have changed over the last year.

If you’re interested in more data on texting, see our other SMS surveys we have conducted.

The Contact Channels Consumers Prefer To Use

The ways to contact a business have reminded much the same up until the last handful of years. Phone calls, emails and most websites offering a “contact us” form have done the job. But we all have seen as consumers that more channels have emerged like texting, live chat and messaging features in our social platforms like Facebook.

Let’s look at how the consumers in our survey felt about all of these contact options and how these results changed year over year (YOY).

Our Biggest Quick Takeaways

At a quick glance a few things stand out:

  • Phone, website forms and texting all increased at least 1% YOY
  • Email is on the decline with the biggest change in any direction, a nearly 4% drop YOY
  • Texting crossed double digits and leads other messaging options like live chat and Facebook Messenger
  • Age is a big factor in channel preferences (see below)

Picking Up The Phone Still On Top

Being able to make a call and get someone on the other end to help you is still a favorable direct route for 45.5% of consumers surveyed. With a long track record, a phone call is a known experience that most still favor.

Threats to phone calls remaining on top would be the growing aversion to calls, lost time on call trees or voicemails and the growing ease of other communication channels.

Age Does Change How Consumers Want To Contact A Business

It’s probably not a surprise that age plays into the contact channel preference. The older the age group, the heavier weighted phone calls become. Here is how the top four channels play out in two specific age groups that showed the most variation between two groups.

contact channels by age groups

25-34 Year Olds

  • 26.5% phone calls (lowest call %)
  • 23.7% text messages (highest text %)
  • 20.6% web forms
  • 11.8% live chat

55 Year Olds & Up

  • 58.5% phone calls (highest call %)
  • 16.5% web forms
  • 10.3% email
  • 8.2% text messages (lowest text %)

It’s safe to say that depending on your target market, or up and coming future customers, that you’ll need to closely assess the channels that you offer.

Email Takes A Dive

The drop in email as a preferred channel to contact a business dipped down to 14.2% in this years survey compared to 18.1% in 2020. The nearly 4% decline could be attributed to the amount of email we all receive, making it a noisier channel that doesn’t have the upside of a quicker communication loop like texting or live chat.

While email is a digital communication staple, this channel will be one to keep an eye on in our future surveys as another drop this size would be massive.

Texting Grows, But Outpacing Other Messaging Channels Is The Real Story

Text Messaging moved up from 9.8% in 2020 crossing double digits at 10.8% in this years survey. This uptick isn’t surprising as SMS is a mainstay in our personal worlds and it’s slowly making it’s way into our business communication. Our prediction is that as more businesses offer 2-way texting as a channel, consumer confidence and desire to text with businesses will see even more growth.

texting with business

The surprise over both of the survey dates though was that text messaging is distancing itself from live chat and Facebook Messenger. In fact, Messenger took a drop from 6.5% in 2020 over a full percent to 5.4% in this years survey. While live chat has been a business contact channel via websites for many years now, it’s small growth in our survey of just 0.2% YOY might represent some of the points we have addressed before on why SMS is better for most businesses than live chat.

As a collective, you can see that “messaging” as a category includes texting, live chat and Facebook Messenger accounts for 23.3% of the 2021 survey. With nearly 1 of 4 consumers preferring business messaging to interact with a business, it can’t be ignored.

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Predictions For 2022

If we look ahead to what might happen in our next preferred contact channel survey in 2022 these key trends might emerge:

  • The messaging category will continue to grow
  • Texting will take another step-up, likely more than the 1% this year with wider adoption
  • Web forms might take a step back with easier options to contact a business growing

As businesses look to make communication with customers (and their own teams) easier and even provide an omnichannel experience, you will need to understand what channels are emerging and what channels are shrinking. Put your focus on what’s growing to win the next stages.


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