Personal telephone contact with online service providers favoured

11 November 2021


When it comes to questions and problems with online services, personal telephone contact is preferred in most cases. Provided, of course, that a number of conditions are met. These are some of the conclusions of a recent survey conducted by online pension administrator BeFrank. The company asked more than 1,000 working people about their experiences with various forms of contact with service providers.

Old-fashioned telephone contact with a service provider is preferred in many situations. For example, almost 75% of those surveyed pick up the phone when something needs to be clarified. However, phone calls are only perceived as successful if an expert provides the requested information promptly and succinctly – and the caller is not endlessly transferred.

WhatsApp yes, Facebook no
After the telephone, contact via e-mail is rated as a pleasant and efficient way to communicate by 70% of respondents. Chatting or WhatsApping with an employee via a service provider’s website also gets high marks: in general, around 50% appreciate this way of communicating. Social channels like Facebook or Twitter, on the other hand, receive much lower ratings. A meagre 17% of those surveyed also choose these platforms. Age differences play a role as well. Of respondents aged 40-49, only 15% appreciate the latter alternative channels. While 30% of all those younger than 30 find Facebook or Twitter just fine. Communication via e-mail, on the other hand, is highly valued by all: nearly 70% of those surveyed rate contact by email as pleasant to very pleasant.

Although contact by telephone is the most favoured way of communicating, a good number of irritations come to the surface as soon as this form of communication is examined more closely. “Long wait times” is the number one issue for 57% of all respondents. ‘At BeFrank, we make it as easy as possible for our participants. We explain everything clearly online and provide insight. If a participant cannot manage on his or her own, we are happy to provide personal assistance. We make this as easy as possible. With us, there’s no pre-recorded script, but rather a staff member on the line right away. There’s no need to transfer calls very often’, says Jan Hein Rhebergen, Managing Director of BeFrank. The research results confirm that this approach meets consumers’ wishes. After all, telephone contact is valued even more highly – by 55% – if one is immediately connected to the right contact person, who also has the customer file readily available. Over half of those surveyed also appreciate it very much if a commitment is made during the telephone conversation to actually solve the problem.

Fine-tuning communication
‘With these results, we can tailor our communication tools and platforms even better to our participants’ needs. There’s a good reason why we have structural meetings with a number of teams about the questions that the customer service department frequently deals with. We then examine together where we can further improve or simplify our approach, to make it even more streamlined’, says Rhebergen. The fact that BeFrank regularly receives high scores in surveys for its clear communication and the user-friendliness of its portals shows that continuous fine-tuning of the procedures and wording is paying off.

The survey shows that over 50% prefer to communicate by telephone for banking, mortgages and pensions in particular. If, on the other hand, concrete information is required on complex financial topics – such as changes to the pensions system – then the telephone loses out with only 12% to the letter (18%) and e-mail (30%). Apparently, most people want to be able to read this kind of information at their leisure.

Continued refinement
‘Preferences for the various forms of contact might shift. And perhaps new forms of communication will be added in the future. That’s why we continue to listen to our customers and invest in our communication channels. Because making pensions accessible remains our goal’, says Rhebergen.

About the survey
BeFrank commissioned Panelwizard to conduct a survey in October 2021 among 1,123 Dutch workers aged 25 years and older.