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Digital Engagement Blog

Customer Engagement Metric: What is Channel Preference Ratio?

Rolling_Stones.gifCustomer engagement rocks. But only if you get it right. Our recent research on digital consumer behavior suggests that the music on hold when consumers call retailers for assistance might as well be The Rolling Stones classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Most retailers (and most enterprises in practically any industry for that matter) offer numerous engagement channels to communicate with current and potential customers. This “channel creep” evolved over the years as enterprises added new channels to keep up with consumer demand for phone, then email, then web, then web chat, then mobile texting, then mobile apps, and now social and video.

One would think that with so many choices available to them, consumers would nearly always get what they want when it comes to choosing how to engage with an enterprise. Since we’re a company obsessed with data, we thought we’d test this assumption by comparing consumer preferences to their actual behavior.

We asked over 1000 consumers in which channel they most often start to engage a retailer when they need assistance, and in which channel they would prefer to start communications when they need assistance. To make it easier to compare results for different channels, we calculated a Channel Preference Ratio. This ratio is the number of consumers who prefer to start in a given channel divided by the number of consumers who actually start in a given channel when they need assistance from a retailer. In shorthand, think of it simply as preferred/actual.

This is what it means:

  • A channel preference ratio of EXACTLY 1.00 means preference matches actual behavior. Consumers prefer that channel just as often as they actually start in it, so one could say the channel is being utilized as expected.
  • A channel preference ratio of LESS THAN 1.00 means consumers start in a channel more often than they prefer. Consumers aren’t getting what they want. The channel is over-utilized relative to consumer preferences, and can be considered to be over-performing.
  • A channel preference ratio of GREATER THAN 1.00 means consumers prefer a channel more often than they start in it. Consumers aren’t getting what they want. The channel has untapped potential in terms of utilization relative to consumer preferences.

Our findings revealed some big disconnects between consumer preferences and the communications channels they were using to engage with retailers. Check out the untapped potential in mobile:

Customer Engagement Metrice: Channel Preference Ratio

This disconnect creates opportunities to engage better with your customers. Our results show that the two channels with the highest interaction costs (phone and email) also happen to have low Channel Preference Ratios, while two lower cost channels (web chat and especially mobile) have serious untapped potential relative to consumer preferences.

Consumers are telling us they’d prefer to use the lower cost channels more often, but they’re not getting what they want. Something is holding them back. Figure out how to remove that barrier, and I promise you’ll be a hero. Interactions will flow naturally from higher cost channels to lower cost channels. You’ll save a ton of money, and you’ll make customers happier in the process.

Ready for a hint about how to make that happen? This is where The Stones got it wrong. “If you try sometimes, well you might find… you get what you need.” That may have been OK back in 1969, but trying doesn’t play so well with today’s digital consumer. If you want to win the hearts of the impatient, multi-tasking, device-hopping, digital consumer, you have to make engagement as effortless as humanly possible.

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Topics: Customer Engagement Consumer Behavior Digital Commerce