New UK “Impatience Index” reveals that digital consumers expect responses in ten minutes

KANA LogoOmnibus research commissioned by customer service specialists KANA Software reveals that consumers’ patience has, in some cases, truncated from 10 days to 10 minutes in the space of a generation.

The proliferation of digital devices and social networks has transformed British consumers’ tolerance of waiting times. What KANA calls the “expectation reflex” has truncated, in a generation, responses measured in working days to a matter of minutes.

David Moody, head of worldwide product strategy at KANA said: “Little more than a decade ago, 10 working days was the conventional commitment of businesses and organisations when responding to complaints; and also the span of consumer tolerance. This no longer applies.”

KANA asked a statistically representative sample of UK adults how frequently they checked for communication responses on their devices. The key findings:

  • Men are generally more impatient than women. Men will check a device for responses on average every 22 minutes, 30 seconds. Women will check every 26 minutes, 15 seconds.
  • The 65+ age group checks devices more frequently than the 45-64 year old group, reflecting the time they have available and their newly developed digital capabilities. This suggests digitally enabled pensioners will become the prolific and demanding complainants within five years.
  • One-fifth of all social media users will check for a response at least once an hour, with one in 20 checking every 10 minutes or more.

The most frequently checked devices across all age groups are:

  • Email on smartphone – every 36 minutes
  • Checking Twitter for replies – every 39 minutes
  • Checking phones for texts – every 48 minutes
  • Checking for mixed calls – every 49.25 minutes
  • Checking PC or laptop for email – every 54 minutes
  • Checking Facebook for messages – every 57 minutes
  • Checking voicemail – every 1 hour, 5 minutes

The following details the frequency by age with which consumers check for responses on any device:

  • 18-24 – Every 9 minutes, 50 seconds
  • 25-34 – Every 9 minutes, 55 seconds
  • 35-44 – Every 21 minutes
  • 45-54 – Every 36 minutes
  • 65+ – Every 47 minutes
  • 55-64 – Every 1 hour, 30 minutes

KANA’s David Moody said: “In the past 10 years, organisations have lost the ‘time shield’ previously offered by postal services. The sense that a letter was on a journey and could be anywhere between the sender and the recipient has been lost. Our impression today is that as soon as we press send, ‘Mr or Ms Cosgrove in Complaints’ should be reading our complaint and working out how to respond. If we don’t hear back quickly, our impatience rises.”

He added: “Public-facing organisations have to recognise the adoption of social channels is truncating customer service processes. With smartphones acting as digital umbilical cords, the modern consumer is always connected. Unfortunately for service desks, ‘working days’ are an outdated concept.”

“Running a customer service operation is as complex as running air traffic control. Reductions in consumer tolerance can and should be met with a level of service that meets revised expectation. The technology already exists to support organisations that wish to monitor all channels and deal with queries and complaints in a rapid and personal fashion. Companies that don’t adjust their processes in the age of the adept digital consumer will be the losers.”

Additional Findings

KANA’s polling also found that the average UK consumer has routinely used more than seven digital communication channels in the past year, challenging most customer-facing businesses. The explosion of social media platforms targeted at consumers in the past 10 years and ease of adoption are creating headaches for businesses as more consumers take to social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to seek help and air their grievances about poor service.

The average UK adult spends a “fraughtnight” — or nearly two weeks — each year waiting for service, making complaints and using digital channels to direct their ire at companies that provide poor service.

The average UK consumer has used 7.4 channels of electronic communication in the past six months. Amongst 18-to-24 year olds, this figure rises to 8.4 channels. The figure is lowest in the 65+ age bracket, but even this age band uses 6.2 methods of electronic communication.

The poll found that an astonishing two weeks each year – equivalent to the amount of time typically taken for a summer holiday – are lost by every adult simply trying to get the service they need or expect from private and public sector organisations.

About KANA Software

KANA understands the value of great customer service experiences. We know every channel through which a customer communicates with—and about—your brand. We provide on-premises and cloud solutions for large enterprises and mid-market organizations. By unifying and maintaining context for customer journeys across agent, Web, social and mobile experiences, KANA solutions have reduced handling time, increased resolution rates and improved net promoter scores (NPS) at more than 900 enterprises – including many of the Fortune 500 and more than 250 government agencies. At KANA, we help create differentiated and personalized customer experiences that count.