How do callers want to communicate?

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The gap is closing between mobile and fixed phone lines as people’s most essential means of communication. Recent research from Ofcom explored which communication services people consider essential in their everyday life. For helplines, this information can be really useful when planning new services and ensuring that these services meet callers' needs.

Overall, the study found that telephone services, especially mobile and internet access, were most essential for UK consumers: 61% of consumers rated voice services (mobile or landline) as essential; 59% considered mobile voice or text services as essential; while 57% regarded personal internet access as essential, accessed either through a fixed line in their home or through a mobile device.

The research also revealed that certain services are considered essential by some, but less important by others, with age being a key differentiating factor. Landline telephone services are considered essential by people aged 75 and above (61%), compared to just 12% of 16 -24 year olds. However, accessing the internet via a smartphone was considered to be an essential communications need by 53% of 16-24 year olds, but to no one aged 75 and above.

When asked which services are essential and which are important, the combined score for mobile phones came out ahead of fixed lines in the home.

People were also asked about what they considered as communications services. Respondents said the ability to contact emergency services, to keep in touch with family and friends, or to access information, education and entertainment were among the key functions of essential services.

In terms of the communication methods that people use, 95% of households have at least one mobile phone, 84% have a landline and 82% have an internet connection.  Just over half of the UK population owned a smartphone in 2013. But for some consumers, particularly those in low income households, cost is a reason for not having a desired service. This applies especially to broadband, with 7% of consumers saying they would like to have broadband but don't because of the cost. One interesting finding of the research was that internet via a smartphone was essential to some low income consumers who find the cost of a fixed internet connection in the home to be unaffordable, so helplines that offer lots of information on their websites may need to consider how the information is optimised for mobile platforms so that people can access it easily.

Read Ofcom's Research

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