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The emergence of the unpredictable American consumer

Unpredictable US Consumer

The increasingly unpredictable nature of consumer behaviour is causing havoc amongst utilities, telecom and other businesses dependent on home appointments, according to new research.

  • Many people no longer answer their door, even when an appointment was made
  • Many appointments need to be rescheduled, at a high cost to US businesses
  • Contact through social media is still shunned by most consumers
  • Many home appointments are missed because people forget them or don’t hear the doorbell

The research, carried out by ContactEngine, found that 74% of US consumers don’t always answer their phone or door when home installation or repair appointments have been made, leading to unnecessary cost and time wasting on behalf of business.

Based on a survey of 1,120 consumers nationwide, the ContactEngine research also found that there is no longer any set pattern for when people are in their homes.  More than two in five people (44%) said there is no best time for businesses to contact them, and more than a third (35%) said there is no particular time or day for a business to make a home appointment, as their days are largely unpredictable.

The results also indicate the three main reasons people miss a home appointment, clearly demonstrating the unpredictability of today’s consumer:

  • “I didn’t know they were coming” (27%)
  • “I simply forgot about the appointment” (27%)
  • “I didn’t hear the doorbell” (20%)

A majority of respondents (51%) like to arrange a time for service and/or maintenance at home using their cell phones, preferring this method to email or a landline.

People also demonstrated a very strong preference for companies to avoid contacting them on social media. Only 6% of respondents said they were happy using Facebook Messenger as a means of contact with customer service to arrange home appointments, and nearly half of respondents (49%) said they would never use Facebook Messenger to arrange a time for an installation or repair appointment.

Dr. Mark K. Smith, CEO of ContactEngine, said, “For an ever increasing number of people their smartphone is their single communications tool for everyday life, so fewer people have or use landlines, while asynchronous emails have always been a fairly hopeless means of dynamic communication.  And this unplugging and shift to mobile comms isn’t just a Millennial trend, but rather across all groups in society.  On a wider level, the use of mobile devices for all comms reflects an adjustment in the work-life balance: people are time-poor, which means that corporations need to have much more targeted conversations with their customers.”

Other interesting findings include:

  • 19% of missed appointments occurred because people were in the bathroom.
  • 11% of missed appointments happen during school pickups.
  • 4% of consumers have had the misfortune of scheduling a single appointment more than 20 times!
  • Almost seven in ten (69%) of the US population said they have lost their temper because of poor customer service.

Dr. Smith continued, “And it’s not simply about having the flexibility to rearrange an appointment – fixing that is just a quick way to make a big saving. What also needs to be addressed by an intelligent conversation engine is the agility to communicate with customers across their whole journey, from sale through care and through retention. The business to customer relationship needs to be realized as a seamless and pro-active conversation via the consumer’s choice of digital channel.”


About ContactEngine ContactEngine is a customer-conversation management platform. Pro-active and omni-channel, ContactEngine leverages natural-language processing and machine-learning so that global brands can transform their customer journeys. ContactEngine disrupts traditional call-centres, being a fraction of the cost to deploy and run, but with three times the customer engagement rate of its manual call-centre predecessors. This means that as well as being lower cost, ContactEngine can drive corporate KPI’s harder and faster, as well as improving the customer experience.

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