Once upon a time, people in the U.S. labor force followed a regular schedule during the work week, and you knew exactly how and when to contact them. A typical work day looked something like this: commuting to work, spending 8-10 hours in an office, commuting back home and setting aside any personal time left thereafter. With this schedule in place, phone calls and emails were the norm if you wanted to reach someone during the work day. Over the past decade, though, there have been significant shifts in demographics, culture and technology that have disrupted the American workforce’s routine, making it more difficult for businesses to reach their customers effectively by phone and email. Texting, though, has become a preferred tool and simple way for people and businesses to communicate during the most convenient time of day for the consumer.
Trends in the American workforce and consumer base
Demographically, millennials (ages 18-35) are now the biggest age group in the American workforce. According to Pew Research Center, there were an estimated 79.8 million millennials compared to 74.1 million baby boomers (ages 52 – 70) in 2016. The millennial consumer and worker is defined as being highly educated, career-driven and incredibly loyal to engaging brands that offer high-quality products. It’s worth noting that they collectively have an estimated annual buying power of approximately $200 billion, which means that businesses should be mindful about capturing millennial mind-share.
Changes in the work day alter consumer habits
At one point there was a clear separation between work and personal lives, where people knew when they were expected to be reachable at their desk, and when they could check out. It was expected that employees would be available by phone or email at specific times of the day, and after they left the office they could disconnect. This also meant that businesses trying to reach their customers knew when those customers were in the office, and when they were at home and shouldn’t be disturbed with a phone call. But millennials have driven a shift in the concept of work-life balance, and have found less intrusive ways to communicate throughout every hour of the day. Thirty-five percent of millennials say they value schedule flexibility over pay, and would sacrifice the possibility of higher earnings if it meant having more control over their daily schedule. Flexible hours and the ability to be reached on a smart phone at any moment have drastically changed how this group maximizes output each day. But this also means that people are often working outside of the traditional nine-to-five framework, and need to be available earlier in the mornings, and later in the evenings, even if they’re not physically at the office. If millennials make up the majority of the workforce, and their work hours are not defined by a set schedule, how do businesses reach them? The answer is to meet them where they already are, on a medium that they prefer – on their phones, via text.
Technology shapes social preferences
The average millennial exchanges 67 text messages per day (Business Insider). Remember that this particular age group has used cell phones since their childhood, and that they have become accustomed to living an on-the-go lifestyle where they can seamlessly access an abundance of information from virtually anywhere. A recent study indicated that 76 percent of millennials prefer to communicate over text because it’s more convenient and allows them to reach out on their own time. Sixty-three percent of those respondents said they felt that texting is less disruptive than phone calls, and 19 percent of them noted that they never check their voicemails.
For millennials, instant satisfaction is desired, and impeccable customer service is required. Without a doubt, this demographic expects more from businesses than ever before, including the freedom to communicate at their convenience.
Texting allows your business to streamline important information on a medium that most people – not just millennials – use daily, and in a convenient way. It doesn’t require playing phone tag or stepping out of meetings to take a call. Texting in and of itself is a considerate method of communicating when people are extremely busy, so before you consider calling your customers on the phone at various points during the day, try sending them a quick text instead.