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IVR - A Powerful IVR is Great, but What about Texting?
September 27, 2011

A Powerful IVR is Great, but What about Texting?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

When on-the-go, Americans tend to have a specific preference on how they want to receive a message. According to a Pew (News - Alert) Internet and American Life Project study, 31 percent of adults prefer to receive text messages over phone calls. 

The study was the focus of a recent CNN article, which suggests that American adults still prefer to receive voice calls, but this majority is shrinking. In fact, 4 percent of cell phone owners do not make or receive voice calls on an average day, while another 27 percent do not use text messaging even for occasional communications. 

This finding is interesting for the IVR industry as companies may need to take a closer look at their available technologies and determine if they are well suited to communicate in a customer’s preferred method. The Pew study suggests that 14 percent select their communication method depending upon the situation, but does that patience extend to self-service channels?

Younger adults are more inclined to use texting. Pew noted that cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 tend to exchange an average of 109.5 messages on any given day, which means more than 3,200 texts are sent per month. The median cell owner in the age group will send or receive 50 messages a day, or 1,500 per month.

The rate of texting was also examined in this study, finding that this rate for 18- to 24-year-olds is more than double the comparable figure for those in the next age group, 25-34 year olds. The rate is as much as 23 times for those using text messaging who are 65 and older. This is significant if a company plans to extend out its IVR offerings without including text messaging as a key interaction tool. 

There appears to be a heavy correlation between whether individuals prefer to receive text messages rather than voice calls and how heavily they use text messaging. For example, 55 percent of those who send or receive more than 51 texts per day tend to prefer this communication channel to phone calls. There is also an indirect correlation with age as younger adults are most likely to be heavy text users.  

There are a number of reasons why some users prefer texting over phone calls. How Stuff Works suggests this communication method offers specific advantages, including privacy as a SMS conversation is less likely to be overheard. Texting is also more courteous to those around the user as there is no loud conversation to interrupt a meal or nearby conversations. 

Texting also provides greater accessibility for those with hearing impairments, and those sitting around ambient noise, within weak or spotty network connections or using poor quality microphones or speakers. 

Regardless of the reasons, what are you doing within your customer service initiatives to embrace this communication channel? Have you enhanced your IVR to embrace texting as a self-service channel? These results of this study suggest it may be time to make this move.  

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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