Tradespeople embracing instant messaging

Tradespeople have adapted to survive in light of COVID-19 by changing the way they communicate with homeowners, according to new research released by Yell Business.

Yell’s latest figures, released this month, showed 76% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) introducing a new service because of COVID-19.

And tradespeople were found to be one of the most adaptable sectors, with 90% of tradespeople surveyed having introducing a new service.

These included taking online bookings and doing online video consultations, for 40%, while 27% had introduced contactless payment systems

Nearly half (46%) of tradespeople who introduced a new service said that it was crucial for them to be able to survive the pandemic, and 85% stated they plan on continuing the service post Covid-19.

The research also identified how the global pandemic has accelerated changes in the ways businesses are communicating with their customers. A massive 93% of tradespeople have introduced new ways of communicating in 2020 with instant messaging platforms coming to the fore.

A quarter of tradespeople have started using Facebook to communicate with customers as a result of COVID-19 and just over one in five, 21%, have started using WhatsApp too. 20% of trades have started using Twitter followed closely by Instagram at 15%. However, 14% have implemented chatbots for this.

Researchers noted that a phone call and email are still ingrained as the most popular communication methods for tradespeople and their customers alike, but the most effective marketing communication tool used by tradespeople during the pandemic was found to be SMS texting.

Overall, more than half, 58%, of tradespeople surveyed said that instant messaging is key for business success post COVID-19

Claire Miles, chief executive officer of Yell, said: “The last six months have been incredibly tough for tradespeople but it’s heartening to see that the majority of the sector 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 tradespeople 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.”

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