A Vonage study has revealed the latest small and medium-sized business (SMB) consumer expectations.
Quick resolutions and multiple customer communication channels were two of the top expectations ranked by consumers.
The survey findings are based on a Pollfish survey last month of 1,500 U.S. respondents who have recently interacted with an SMB.
Joy Corso, Chief Marketing Officer for Vonage, said: “Customer experience is not one-size-fits-all, and all businesses, including SMBs, should consider that consumer preferences are ever-changing.
“There’s a clear need to continuously evaluate communication channels to keep customers happy and coming back.
“As new communications preferences emerge, implementation of these channels doesn’t have to be complicated.
“A cloud-based platform can help businesses easily implement and scale their communications across voice, video, and messaging as their customers prefer.
“Doing so will go a long way in delivering high-quality customer engagements and satisfaction.”
Respondents expected quicker resolutions with voice (27 percent) and video (25 percent) engagement channels.
Furthermore, 29 percent reported that any interaction with AI communication tools, such as chatbots and voice recognition, should result in a fast response time.
The survey revealed that 60 percent of respondents take a less favourable view of SMBs that do not provide support through multiple communication channels, but they would still work with the SMB.
However, 16 percent of respondents said that they would not only take a less favourable view of an SMB with limited communication channels, but they would not work with them again as a result.
Vonage concludes, therefore, that in order to retain customers and meet expectations, SMBs must offer a number of communication channel options to customers.
For SMBs looking to prioritise their communications channels on offer, the survey showed that 23 percent of respondents ranked voice calls ahead of all other communication channels.
Voice is also the most popular option for healthcare (33 percent) and professional services industries (32 percent), according to respondents.
When it comes to retail SMBs, however, 32 percent indicated a preference in email first, followed by voice (25 percent) second.
Other findings from the survey included 68 percent still prefer doctor appointments in person, while 32 percent would rather use video. Healthcare providers should note the growing need to add video communications tools, therefore.
It appears consumers are happy to provide their feedback to SMBs, with 46 percent saying they would offer their thoughts regardless of being asked.
Communication channel preferences with SMBs can change depending on the day, 30 percent of respondents said. The only solution to this unpredictable portion of consumers is to provide a wide range of communication options to meet and exceed their expectations.
Vonage in the Spotlight
Ericsson’s $6.2 billion acquisition of Vonage was completed in July 2022. Since then, there has been little noise from Ericsson about its acquisition, but it is now revealing its game plan of leveraging wireless operator relationships, enabling Vonage to use mobility as a differentiator.
A big clue came in November 2022 when Ericsson announced it would unify Vonage’s toolkit for 5G customer experience application development.
Vonage describes itself as a “global cloud communications leader”, helping businesses to accelerate their digital transformation journey.
It has a fully programmable communications platform, with video, voice, chat, messaging, AI, and verification integrations available to connect with products, workflows, and systems.
The Vonage conversational commerce application allows businesses to create AI-powered omnichannel experiences to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction.
Vonage is currently a market leader in the CPaaS space, occupying the top spot in eight of Omdia’s ten categories, according to the market analysts’ CPaaS report in July last year.