CAMPBELL, Calif., Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Driven by millennial shoppers embracing new technology like chatbots and messaging apps, chat has surpassed phone and email as the most popular way for consumers to interact with retailers, according to a new study from customer engagement software and services provider 7.
The report, titled " A Retailer's Guide to Chat," finds that 28.9 percent of consumers prefer to interact with retailers through online chat (25.8 percent) or messaging apps (3.1 percent) while making a purchase. Together, these chat tools are now more popular than phone (28.7 percent) and email (27 percent) as the preferred method of interaction with retailers. Based on a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, the study highlights the important role that millennials are playing in this shift. Among consumers ages 18 to 34, more than a third (37 percent) of respondents chose chat as their favorite way to contact companies, while less than a quarter ranked phone or email as their top choice. As consumers use more messaging apps in their personal lives, the study suggests chat is emerging as a primary communication channel for retailers as well. "Messaging apps are incredibly valuable for retailers looking to enhance relationships with consumers, particularly millennials," said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer for 7. "With chat technology rapidly evolving, it's becoming a much more efficient and engaging customer-service channel." Messaging Apps and Chatbots Grow in Popularity The growing use of messaging apps by businesses has the potential to further accelerate the trend toward chat as a primary way to communicate with retailers. More than a quarter of consumers (26 percent) say they're open to interacting with a company through a messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, and the number jumps to 39 percent for millennials.