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  • Leslie Horna

Consumers: Can't Get No Satisfaction

More often than not, consumer engagement is electronic and many brands rarely, if ever, interact with customers in real life. This can make it difficult to develop close relationships with customers. At a time when people prefer personalization and companies must know a lot about each customer in order to cater to specific wants, needs, and preferences, how do you know if your customers are happy with your company?

Companies can conduct focus groups, phone interviews, online surveys, social media polls, as well as many other tactics to collect customer input. It's not enough to honestly gather and securely store the data, rather it's the analysis and strategy that comes from those insights that will propel a company's business forward. Showing customers that you took the time to listen and respond to their feedback can sometimes make up for those improvements that take your company longer to achieve. Before customers get frustrated and direct their attention [and business] to one of your competitors, conduct research to better understand their sources of frustration. Most of these pain points can be improved and will be less costly than losing a customer.

Consumers shared in the Accenture's Global Consumer Pulse Survey that lack of trust and security - such as companies who fail to deliver on promises or mishandle personal information - are top sources of discontent. To combat these opinions, companies can build trust through transparent and frequent communication, establish vendor and community partnerships that share the company's values, and manage company culture to ensure all activities are aligned with the organization's mission and vision. As consumers get to know who you are as a company and see the value in the goods/services you provide them, you're better able to meet or exceed their expectations.

Demand for instant, personalized service is high and continues to grow faster than businesses can keep up. Consumers want to work with companies that make the experience simple, convenient, and enjoyable. According to research from Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Survey, 52% of consumers have made a switch due to poor customer service. Consumers' expectations for prompt responses and instant access to information have given rise to artificial intelligence (AI) such as chatbots and messaging applications. This enables companies like you to provide more individual attention at scale. With about 44 percent of consumers today using a virtual assistant, AI's use in customer service and customer success will only continue to grow.

Let's put all this into context. Customer service is so important that:

  • 41 percent of customers will switch companies based on an issue of trust

  • 45 percent of customers are willing to pay more for better customer service

  • 33 percent of customers are interested in subscription-based service which encourages the company to provide continuous value so that the customer to stays loyal

  • 65 percent of customers believe that in-store service provides the best-personalized experience

As brands invest more in customer experience to combat these issues, ample emphasis should be placed on retaining customers; not just attracting new business. Take the time to learn and understand what frustrates customers and make improvements. Also be sure to thank and reward customers for their ongoing support and trust in your company. How do you do that?

Loyalty programs show promise as nearly half of all consumers surveyed by Accenture expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. From grocery store shopper cards to wine club memberships and CSA subscriptions, programs like these reward customers with special perks, provide up-to-date information and events from the brand, and create a community of friends among their shared interest. Participation in loyalty programs appeals to consumer feelings of belonging and appreciation, meaning the consumer feels good about the experience and is eager to come back for more. Customers are more comfortable providing their personal data if companies use insights to improve their experience. Successfully managed loyalty programs do just that.

The more brands can focus on personal, trustworthy, consistent, and convenient service, the more engaged and loyal the customer will be. Customers today are bombarded with messages and have more choices than ever before. Listen to your customers, resolve to be better, and strive to make every customer experience great. Research has shown that customers with better experiences spend 140 percent more than those with the worst experiences. Help those customers spend more with you!

Invest in customer journey mapping, collect and review customer feedback, and revise your company communications to see a boost in your bottom line. If you're interested in brand experience research, strategy, or execution, schedule a consultation to get started.

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