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Why Customer Expectations for Engagement with Businesses has Changed Forever

This article was published on November 9, 2021

With around half of consumers worldwide increasing their use of digital channels to engage with businesses over the past 12-18 months and 87 percent expecting to maintain or increase this level in the next 6-12 months, Vonage’s research launched today reinforces the need for businesses to transform their customer engagement strategies to become more agile and adapt to permanent changes accelerated by the COVID era.

Vonage’s Global Customer Engagement Report, based on a survey of 5,000 consumers from 14 countries, uncovers just how much the pandemic advanced the global adoption of newer communications channels while increasing fragmentation in channel preferences, especially in the ways that consumers interact with organizations. And in an age where customers expect ultra-fast, seamless and dynamic customer experiences, they are ready to leave any business when their experiences fall short.

The research found that consumers’ preference for connecting with businesses using video soared by 300 percent since January 2020, while preference for messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber, has doubled. Consumers who embraced new and emerging channels of communication during the pandemic did not revert back to old habits. Customer engagement has permanently changed and there will be no return to the pre-2020 era. 

Key Research Findings

  • Three in five consumers worldwide are video chatting with a business or service provider more now than they were at the start of the pandemic, and four in five expect their usage to stay the same (55%) or increase even further (35%) during the next six months.

  • Consumers are using video chat to connect with healthcare services 50 percent more today than they were during the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. One in four use video chat in key healthcare scenarios including remote consultations, remote therapy, and describing symptoms.

  • Consumers now use and prefer WhatsApp both to call and text more than any other messaging channel. In EMEA, more than half of consumers have used WhatsApp to contact a business (52%), while in LATAM, this is higher still, at 89 percent.

  • In North America, 34 percent of consumers communicate daily with friends and family through calls via messaging apps - up from 29 percent in August 2020. In LATAM, this soars to 62 percent.

How Communication Technologies are Enabling Customer Engagement

Businesses must always be agile and ready to adapt to changes in the market, but the pandemic made the call for agility even louder. While a remote delivery of services is crucial to business survival today, that ability will mean little if the experience isn’t frictionless, seamless and embedded into the applications customers are already comfortable using. Organizations that meet consumers on their communications channel of choice, while limiting frustrations, may emerge from this turbulent era stronger than before. 

As the world leader in virtual care, Teladoc Health, Inc. enables embedded telehealth capabilities through its platform via the Vonage Video API: “We have experienced a tremendous increase in usage of our telehealth solution as our healthcare providers continue to provide uninterrupted and critical medical care to their patients during the pandemic,” said Jeff Nadler, Chief Information Officer for Teladoc Health, Inc. “With patients continuing to seek medical care from the comfort and safety of their homes, seamlessly embedded video chat capabilities enable our providers to ensure their patients have access to personalized, real-time care - from anywhere.”

Civica, a global leader in software for public services, is able to create an engaging video platform for both internal meetings and external communications with the public, via the Vonage Video API. “Enhancing and streamlining our video offering has become a core focus for Civica during the pandemic, and we expect demand for unified and scalable communications platforms to rise exponentially within the local authorities we service,” said Steven Garratt, Managing Director of Civica Modern.Gov. “With Vonage’s Video API, we are able to keep users within our ecosystem, allowing us to ensure that both local authority employees and members of the public can join meetings, communicate, and view secure and easily accessible information from any device.”

AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation can power embedded, personalized customer connections throughout the loan process, all within the context of its existing applications, via the Vonage SMS API and Vonage Verify API. "At AmeriSave, we rely on the use of advanced technology to provide low rates, transparent pricing, easy online applications and, most importantly, great customer service for our clients," said Magesh Sarma, CIO for AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation. "With Vonage, we have the ability to make our customer interactions even easier and seamless, with secure messaging capabilities that also provide us the capability to scale as we grow."

As analyst and author Brian Solis noted, businesses should align their purpose with customer needs and values if they hope to become resilient and relevant in the post-pandemic era. Customers appreciate businesses that show empathy and consideration for their needs, and they haven't been shy about experimenting with new solutions that might be a better fit. Organizations must quickly react to evolving consumer communication preferences if they intend to earn continued customer loyalty.

Download Vonage’s full report, "No Turning Back: The Customer Engagement Revolution" to find out more and uncover all the findings.

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