November 11, 2003, 12:00 AM

Young people more likely to choose online customer service options

Retail customers under 35 are more likely than older people to opt for e-mail, web-based self-service or instant messaging for contacting customer service, a study by Harris Interactive says.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Retail customers under 35 are more likely than older people to opt for e-mail, web-based self-service or instant messaging for contacting customer service instead of resorting to telephone calls or store visits, a study by Harris Interactive says.

The study noted that 26% of consumers include e-mail among their preferred customer service contact methods, 15% include web self-service and 8% include instant messaging. But when broken down by age groups, each of these services was most popular among younger consumers.

For e-mail, 32% of consumers aged 18-24 and 36% of consumers aged 25-34 chose it as one of their preferred methods, compared to 10% for consumers 65 and older. E-mail preference rates for other age groups ranged between 25% and 29%.

Web self-service was mentioned as a preferred method by:
-- 22% of consumers aged 18-24;
-- 20% of consumers aged 25-34;
-- 16% of consumers aged 35-44;
-- 18% of consumers aged 45-54;
-- 11% of consumers aged 55-64; (br> -- 4% of consumers aged 65 and over.

Instant messaging was cited as a preferred method by:
-- 17% of consumers aged 18-24;
-- 12% of consumers aged 25-34;
-- 10% of consumers aged 35-44;
-- 4% of consumers aged 45-54;
-- 6% of consumers aged 55-64;
-- 2% of consumers aged 65 and over.

The study, commissioned by RightNow Technologies Inc., a provider of online customer service tools, was based on a survey of 1,019 consumers aged 18 and over (including 551 men and 508 women) Oct. 16-19.

The study also found that, on average, consumers consider as acceptable customer service waiting times of seven minutes for telephone inquiries, and 10 hours for e-mail or web site inquiries. But it also noted that 48% of consumers said five hours is an acceptable waiting time for e-mail or web site inquiries.

 

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