Remember when TV used to only be on television? Remember that “Can you hear me now” TV commercial for Verizon?
Would you say that the new version of “Can you hear me now” is “Did you get my email?” or “Did you get my voicemail?” I wouldn’t – quite simply because everyone sends text messages–and reads them–really really fast. In fact, if I had sent you a text when you started reading this article, there’s an extremely high probability that you’d have already read it by now.
The problem with email isn’t connectivity, or whether or not it was sent or received properly. It’s that we all have so much email, and so much email that we don’t care about. On average, we get seven times as many emails a month as we do texts—that’s over 1200 emails for those keeping score at home. No wonder the average person dedicates 28% of their workweek to opening email.
And what about voicemail or actually calling people? Try asking the people around you if they listen to voicemails—chances are they’ll say no. NBC’s Today Show reports that most Millennials don’t leave voicemails or listen to them; in fact, research by Harris Interactive found that over 40% return calls without checking voicemails (download the report).
So, to recap, email is overwhelming us and no one wants to make a call or listen to voicemail. How are we going to get a hold of each other?
Oh yeah, text message.
If you have one thing in common with the rest of humankind, it’s that you send and receive text messages—some of the 6 billion sent each day, according to Forrester. Pew Internet says text messaging is the most utilized function on mobile phones. If you still think it’s just for millennials, you’re about 10 years too late. (They’re still the group that texts the most, though, with a solid 95% using text). More and more people–in fact most– would prefer to text instead of calling.
So where does that leave email, voicemail and the traditional phone call?
I’m not going to suggest that it’s time to move on, because we already have. Well, most of us have. Just like the Today’s Show host, Matt Lauer, many businesses are a bit stuck in their old ways. Can you imagine asking a customer that bought your product to send you a posted letter if they had any questions or needed customer support? That’s what we’re doing to the customers who would rather text than call or email (most of us).
In a world where no one wants email and people text more than they call, it’s no wonder that the business world is finally starting to catch up. Email, voicemail and phone calls are have become annoying tasks to be avoided at all costs. Meanwhile, customers everywhere can finally rejoice in business actually meeting them on their preferred communication channel—text message.
If you’re interested in reading the complete Harris Interactive report discussing the high demand for text in customer service, download it here.
Photo by Flickr user Steven Lilley.