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New study suggests instant messaging key for domestic services

12 November 2020

ACCORDING TO a new report, 61% of domestic service businesses state that instant messaging is key for business success post COVID-19.

The new study, conducted by Yell Business, reveals the scale of the challenge business owners have faced in recent months with three quarters (76%) of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) introducing a new service as a result of COVID-19.  

The domestic service industry was found to be one of the most adaptable sectors in the report, with 95% of businesses surveyed introducing a new service. Of those new services: 

  • 40% started doing online video tutorials 
  • 37% started hosting online video events 
  • 36% started taking online bookings 
  • 36% started doing online video consultations 
  • Over half (54%) of domestic service businesses who introduced a new service said it was crucial for them to be able to survive the pandemic, with 82% stating they plan on continuing the service post COVID-19. 

Who’s getting the message? 

The research also identified how the global pandemic has accelerated changes in the ways businesses are communicating with their customers. 95% of domestic service businesses have introduced new ways of communicating in 2020 and it’s instant messaging platforms that are coming to the fore. A quarter of domestic service businesses have started using WhatsApp and another 25% have started using Instagram to communicate with customers. 17% have started using Facebook Messenger for the first time whilst 16% have implemented chatbots. 

While a phone call and email are still ingrained as the most popular communication methods for SMEs and consumers alike, interestingly online video calls were also identified as being a key communication tool for domestic service businesses. When it came to marketing communications however, the most effective tool used by domestic service businesses during the pandemic was found to be WhatsApp. When asked whether the tool had been either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ effective since March’s national lockdown, 58% of businesses stated that it had. Google Ads (54%), advertising on Twitter (54%), a Facebook page (51%), Facebook Messenger (51%) and SMS texting (50%) followed.  

Getting the message in an instant  

Instant messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other social messaging platforms were found to be vital communication tools for domestic service businesses. 61% of businesses surveyed said that instant messaging is key for business success post Covid-19, whilst 42% stated they had seen an uplift in repeat business thanks to using instant messaging services during the pandemic. 35% said that they had seen an increase in customer satisfaction from using the service and 34% saw an uplift in enquiries.  

Choosing the correct channel to communicate with customers was found to have far reaching benefits for the domestic service industry too. Yell’s research revealed that over a third (36%) of consumers would be more likely to buy from a business that communicated with them on their preferred channel. 28% of consumers would be more likely to recommend the business to a friend and 24% would be more likely to spend more with that business. Conversely, if an SME communicated with a customer on the wrong channel, 37% of consumers wouldn’t use that business again and 18% would even leave a bad review for the business.   

Optimism in the face of adversity 

Despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19, the majority of domestic service businesses remain positive for the future. Over two thirds (69%) of business owners state that they are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021 and, on average, another 69% said they were more prepared to deal with another lockdown. 

  • 95% of domestic service businesses have introduced a new service as a result of the pandemic 
  • 40% of domestic service businesses have introduced online video tutorials as a result of COVID-19
  • Over two thirds (69%) of domestic service business owners are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021. 

Claire Miles, chief executive officer of Yell, said: “The last six months have been incredibly tough for the domestic services sector but it’s heartening to see that the majority of the industry remains optimistic in the face of adversity. Our diverse local businesses are the cornerstones of our community, which is why it’s crucial that now, more than ever, Yell continues to champion small businesses and provide the digital tools and insights needed for them to thrive. 

"Our research highlights not only the sheer adaptability of businesses but also their ability to find the right way to communicate change to their existing and potential customers. It’s clear that during these uncertain times, instant messaging services have been a real lifeline to businesses in the sector who have had to adapt and adjust their models quickly. Instant messaging, as we are aware from our own developments with Apple in this area, facilitates timely and conversational communication between businesses and consumers and as the findings show, many businesses will still be relying on these services to succeed post pandemic.” 

For more information visit: https://business.yell.com/sme-insight/whos-getting-the-message/