After use of digital services more than doubled on average, consumers have less tolerance for outages
WAYNE, Pa. — American consumers’ use of digital services more than doubled on average during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research released today. The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), polled 2,000 Americans and found that as reliance on digital services accelerates, consumers have less tolerance for outages. Some 55% changed providers or reduced service levels due to technical issues experienced during stay-at-home orders.
The study focused on the services Americans used before and during self-isolation, with three-quarters calling the pandemic a wake-up for how reliant they are on digital services. Nearly 85% said the pandemic opened their eyes to how dependent the world is on technology.
Among the services consumers relied on, virtual fitness classes saw the biggest growth during the pandemic, as usage soared 289%. Online educational classes were close behind, up 263%, followed by virtual visits to national parks, museums or zoos, which increased 261% during respondents’ time indoors.
Critical digital services, including prescription delivery (up 200%), telehealth (up 154%) and grocery delivery (up 139%), also surged during the pandemic lockdown.
According to the study, seven in 10 respondents said they’re likely to continue using the new digital services they’ve utilized during self-isolation. Additionally, 77% admitted that without today’s technology, they wouldn’t be able to access things they need on a daily basis.
However, the increased reliance on digital services during self-isolation isn’t without pitfalls. Respondents experienced an average of six tech-related issues since entering self-isolation. Three-quarters of respondents admitted that they’ve struggled to maintain their normal life due to technical difficulties.
“Consumers’ patience for disruptions and downtime is only going to dwindle as their reliance on technology deepens. Businesses now have little room for error, as even the smallest disturbance could drive customers to end their relationship with a company,” said John Beattie, Principal Consultant at Sungard AS. “Now, more than ever, companies must re-evaluate organizational resilience and risk to make sure their digital services remain available despite outages, equipment failures, pandemics and other disasters.”
In addition, the survey discovered:
- Consumers aren’t afraid to abandon companies over technology glitches. While 55% changed a service provider or reduced their service levels due to technology issues, another 41% of respondents said they’re planning on cutting ties with a provider once the pandemic is over. Roughly 50% said they’re even planning on avoiding certain companies altogether based on their COVID-19 response.
- Consumers think companies need to be better prepared for the next disaster. Over 60% of those surveyed weren’t prepared to transition to working from home during the pandemic. Nearly 90% feel companies should use this pandemic as a lesson on how to better prepare for future emergency scenarios, and 85% said that companies should use it to enable remote work.
- Crashing websites point to need for greater resilience. Consumers experienced many technology issues during the pandemic, including websites crashing when paying bills (46%), websites crashing when trying to order online (38%), websites crashing when filing for unemployment benefits (29%), as well as cyberattacks and data breaches (21%).
- Young consumers willing to sacrifice their private data. Some 60% of consumers overall said they were willing to sacrifice the security of their personal information if it meant they could use a digital service to connect with others during the lockdown. Consumers under 40 proved much more willing: 69% of 18-23 year olds and 70% of 24-39 year olds said they were willing to give up the security of their personal information. But only 58% of 40-55 year olds and 14% of those over 55 said the same.
This random double opt-in survey was conducted on behalf of Sungard AS by OnePoll – a market research company and corporate member of both the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR) – and adheres to the MRS code of conduct. It polled 2,000 American consumers about the services they used before and during self-isolation from COVID-19. Data was collected between May 15, 2020 and May 19, 2020. Full results are available here.
About Sungard Availability Services
Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) is a leading provider of cloud connected infrastructure solutions serving enterprise customers from 75 hardened data centers and workplace recovery facilities in nine countries. Sungard AS has a 40-year track record of delivering resilient and highly available hybrid IT solutions. Backed by high-performance networks, Sungard AS modernizes customers’ end-to-end IT across connected infrastructure, cloud, recovery and workplace solutions. Working with customers to understand their business objectives, Sungard AS identifies gaps in customers’ current environments and tailors a solution to achieve their desired business outcomes.
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