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Reducing the Impact of the Post-COVID Digital Paradox

Post-COVID Digital Paradox

This fall, Symend released its post-COVID report revealing the underlying perceptions and attitudes behind changing behavior, and the impact on engagement and repayment patterns. Consumers seek digital offerings more than ever, while simultaneously struggling with digital fatigue. This creates what we refer to as the digital paradox.This blog post will share the impact of consumer expectations and digital fatigue post-COVID, and explain how these changing behaviors have created the digital paradox consumers are experiencing today. Additionally, the report uncovers how bill prioritization and spending priorities have evolved based on income and savings post-COVID.

In addition to the insights and key findings from this in-depth research, you will find recommendations from Symend’s PhD behavioral scientists and industry experts. Read the report to better understand and adapt to the unique and changing needs of your customers as they adjust to a new normal.

Consumer expectations

Many service providers started offering new digital tools to adapt to increasing demands on customer service teams throughout the pandemic. This accelerated digital adoption, leaving a lasting impact on consumer expectations. Ensuring the continued use and adoption of digital tools can be achieved by aligning with consumer expectations, while prioritizing ease of use and convenience.

The digital tools and services consumers expect

Symend’s survey shows that digital tool preferences vary based on whether the consumer is behind on bills.

  • For consumers who are behind on bills, payment arrangements were among the top three must-have tools.
  • Online-bill pay ranks as a top priority across both telecommunications and financial services, regardless of whether the consumer is behind on bills.

These preferences demonstrate why it is essential for service providers to offer a variety of tools and personalized options, tailored to customer needs. Ensure your digital transformation efforts are data-driven by referencing the report for the full breakdown of digital tool preferences.

Personalization improves retention and cure rates

Creating targeted strategies based on expectations can help consumers stay caught up on bills, while improving retention through an enhanced and personalized experience. Not offering the digital tools consumers expect will impact retention, as well as engagement and repayment rates.

  • 4 in 10 customers indicated that they are likely to leave their provider if they do not offer the digital tools they expect.
  • Respondents who are behind on bills are nearly twice as likely to indicate that they use the digital tools offered by their provider.

When prioritizing your digital transformation efforts, we suggest taking a data-driven approach so you can deliver what customers expect and need, while maximizing ROI. Now is the time to accelerate your digital transformation efforts in alignment with the expectations and needs of your customers. Service providers that meet these expectations will ultimately improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Digital fatigue

Pandemic restrictions resulted in work from home orders and fluctuations in employment, and 65% of Symend’s survey respondents indicated that their screen time increased as a result of COVID-19. Digital fatigue occurs when an excessive amount of time is spent on digital devices which causes stress, desensitization toward the environment, loss of interest, and physical and mental problems.

  • Nearly half of respondents to Symend’s survey indicated they are experiencing some degree of digital fatigue.

Digital fatigue is amplified by habituation, which results in a weakened response from repeated exposure to various things. The impact of digital fatigue is widespread and affecting consumers in unexpected ways. More people are ignoring emails and texts and are becoming more likely to miss bill payments, regardless of ability to pay. The impact of digital fatigue is lasting, making it crucial that service providers understand and respond to digital fatigue.

Challenging assumptions around digital fatigue

While digital fatigue has been portrayed as a phenomenon for higher income white collar workers, Symend’s survey shows that the impact was felt across all individuals regardless of socioeconomic status.

The results also show that those most significantly impacted were in two vastly different income brackets, with respondents making $100K to $150K, and respondents making less than $25K per year. See more survey results on digital fatigue by annual income in the report.

How digital fatigue impacts bill repayment

Of those respondents who are currently experiencing digital fatigue, 39% indicated they are more likely to miss or be late paying a bill. For those who are not experiencing digital fatigue, only 6% say they are more likely to be late or miss paying a bill. This demonstrates that digital fatigue has been impacting consumers and their likelihood of paying bills on time, regardless of their ability to pay.

3 strategies for capturing the attention of digitally fatigued consumers

  1. Using personalized messaging that is attention grabbing
  2. Paring back outreaches during periods of digital fatigue to avoid oversaturating consumers – this will help increase engagement for the most important communications
  3. Sending relevant and timely information on the channels your customers prefer

Read the report for more recommendations on how to best respond to digital fatigue.

The digital paradox: Consumer expectations vs. digital fatigue

As we showcase throughout the report, the pandemic has brought on a paradox for the post-COVID consumer. Consumers have adopted more digital tools and, as a result, expect providers to accelerate digital offerings. With 35% of consumers indicating that they ignore emails and texts more than ever before, these expectations are at odds with the strong presence of digital fatigue. As consumers seek digital offerings more than ever, these behaviors compete with the digital fatigue many are experiencing.

As we look to the post-COVID future, the economy, spending habits, consumer expectations and priorities are all in flux. There are plenty of theories on what to expect in a post-COVID future, but do you know the science behind changing consumer perceptions and attitudes?

Read the post-COVID report for more key findings on consumer expectations and digital fatigue, and to learn more about our research on consumer spending and bill prioritization.

About the report

Throughout the pandemic, Symend conducted multiple surveys to monitor changing perceptions and attitudes of consumers. Symend has also kept a pulse on market research and insights around what to expect post-COVID. These findings were used to shape the research objectives for Symend’s post-COVID survey which was conducted in July 2021 with 2,000 consumers across the United States and Canada, all of whom have primary or shared responsibility for household bills. The report was also shaped by Symend’s insights from engaging and treating millions of customers, survey and web testing data from Symend’s Engagement Science Lab. The findings were focused on the implications for service providers in telecommunications, financial services and utilities.

Want to learn more about Symend’s post-COVID research? Get your copy of the report and start preparing for the future of customer engagement.