Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

The Shift to Digital-First Customer Service

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Over the last few years there has been a fundamental shift in the way consumers connect with brands to get their questions answered and problems solved. At one time a consumer’s initial reaction to a printer breaking or their cable TV going down was to 1) take a deep breath, then 2) pick up the phone and begin the arduous process of waiting on hold listening to elevator music.


Now that has shifted, and consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels first for support. Whether it’s social channels for quick resolution, online communities for peer-to-peer help, or 1:1 messaging channels on web and mobile, digital-first is becoming the new norm. A number of stats bear this out:

  • Forrester – approximately two-fifths of US adults prefer to use digital customer service instead of speaking with person on the phone.
  • IDC – by 2019, over 80 percent of people worldwide will have used a social channel to seek brand-related support.


Beyond just the digital shift, if a consumer reaches out to a brand, the last thing they want is to get bounced from channel to channel (e.g. from social media to a phone). They want to resolve their questions in the channel of their choice, quickly and painlessly. Data backs this up – according to a Sapio Research survey, 58 percent of consumers have been forced to move to a different channel when making a customer service request. Forty-nine percent of them were left feeling less positive about the brand as a result, with 30 percent considering taking their business elsewhere.


Businesses are also seeing this shift towards digital, with Forrester data revealing 71% of businesses say social media will transform their customer experience operations in the next two years.


Here at Lithium, we see Messaging as one of the channels that has been consistently growing in popularity over the last few years as a way for consumers to connect with brands. Independent research supports this:

  • Gartner predicts that by 2019, requests for customer support through consumer messaging apps will exceed requests for customer support through social media.
  • And a Sapio Research survey of 4,000 consumers found that 63 percent who have used messaging to contact a brand report they were very satisfied/satisfied with their experience.


For more information on Lithium Messaging, check out: