Generating, ultimate customer experience (CX) is now an essential part of the planning discussion for all business sectors. A good customer experience helps to set brands apart, giving them the potential to secure greater share in an increasingly ultra-competitive market.
However, CX is not a one-way relationship and consumers increasingly know this too. New regulations such as GDPR, give consumers the power to opt out of CX conversations, and means they can demand more from brands in return for their custom and their data.
A Verizon-sponsored survey of 6,000 consumers across 15 countries conducted by Longitude, a Financial Times company, that drills down into the fundamentals of a CX relationship. Also, what consumers from various ages groups (18-65 years), and regions (Asia Pacific, Europe and Canada/U.S.) view as important when starting, and maintaining a relationship with a business brand.
Gordon Littley, MD of Verizon’s Global CX Practice, said: “The customer is king when it comes to a brand being successful. Today, CX technology has the power to secure, enhance and stimulate a brand’s relationship with a consumer, but it should not define, nor limit them. Often, the promises made by new CX technologies are prioritized ahead of individual customer preferences, and desires, and this shouldn’t be the case.
“We must remember that every customer is an individual, and he or she wants to be treated that way. Technology innovation can help brands stand out, but customer service basics remain vital, the best relationships will be built on mutual trust and simplicity.”
Key findings from the survey are as follows:
- Personalization and convenience are frontline battlegrounds. Consumers are increasingly savvy, when it comes to the type of service they expect. They want an efficient, bespoke experience, which mirrors the way they usually communicate, including with the use of emerging technologies.
- 63 percent of those surveyed did not care about the channel, they used with businesses, as long as they got through quickly and easily. 35 percent flagged that they would actually leave a company with slow apps, with 59 percent saying they often abandon online transactions that take too long. More importantly, 41 percent would actually leave a company that can’t meet their request at the first time of asking.
- However, 47 percent surveyed would go back to a company offering a personalized, intuitive CX, even if a rival was cheaper; and if they had to sign up to a new brand, 37 percent were more likely to do so if an existing online profile could be used for convenience.
- Innovation helps brands stand out, but customer service basics remain vital. Consumers want the option of using new technologies.
- 42 percent are open to companies finding new ways of communicating with them, such as via wearable devices or voice-activated personal assistants.
- 55 percent of 18-24 year olds surveyed were attracted to companies that deliver CX using the latest digital technologies, compared to 47 percent of 25-65 year olds surveyed.
- 60 percent also wished to be able to switch between communication channels easily; similarly, 60 percent said a good mobile app would improve their perception of a brand. However, sometimes they just want to talk to a person.
- 34 percent would switch if they were unable to speak to a real person; 21 percent would do the same if they couldn’t locate a customer service telephone number.
- 54 percent of those surveyed listed live telephone conversations as a preferred communication channel. This was stressed across all age ranges – 38 percent of 18-24 year olds surveyed agreed, rising to 46 percent of 25-34 year olds.
Data is a powerful CX weapon, but it must be used ethically, and for the benefit of the customer. Consumers understand that in order to get the experiences they want they need to share some of their data. But, they want rewards in return!
- 69 percent surveyed felt that companies ask for data for the brand’s own gain, rather than to improve CX (62 percent surveyed in APAC; 71 percent in US and 74 percent in Europe).
- 67 percent surveyed cited discounts and promotions as being among the top three pay-backs that they would expect in return for their data, followed by 40 percent flagging one-click log-in and transaction tools, and 39 percent desiring more exclusive experiences.
- 45 percent of 18-24 year olds surveyed would be prepared to share their data if they get a more intuitive and personalized user experience as a result. In fact, 31 percent would let a retailer access their social media accounts to generate product and service recommendations; 39 percent surveyed would let a restaurant or retailer track their location to offer them better deals when they’re nearby; and 28 percent didn’t mind being tracked by fitness apps to receive fitness advice in return.
Building trust is critical to outflank rivals. Consumers may desire convenience and personalization, but they will not give up security and privacy to get it.
- 32 percent of those surveyed saw the clear communication of benefits offered in return for data as crucial for winning trust.
- Even though convenience is seen as a major benefit in CX, 62 percent surveyed said they rarely saved their banking details when dealing with a company online, even though it would speed up their return visit.
- 63 percent complained that managing passwords is increasingly complex; this could be seen as an opportunity to those businesses able to offer a trusted, rapid, intuitive security processes.
Data security, and privacy is priority. Once secured, trust must be maintained. If a company suffers a security breach, it will inevitably lose customers.
- 61 percent said their awareness of data-privacy issues has increased in the past year.
- 69 percent flagged “honesty and transparency” on how personal data would be used as crucial in building trust, and a further 42 percent stressed the need to communicate clearly regarding data regulation compliance, with 39 percent turning to a competitor if a company did not adhere to their data and privacy settings and preferences.
- 69 percent would avoid a company that had suffered a data breach, even if it offered a better deal than competitors.
- More than half (52 percent) of the consumers surveyed said if they were personally affected by a data breach, they would avoid the company that had compromised their information for four to six months; almost a third (29 percent) said they would never use the brand again. Even customers whose information had not been breached would boycott the company—almost 20% said they would leave for good.
Littley comments: “You’ve got to completely respect the consumer’s privacy first and foremost. Unless they’ve opted in, you use nothing. You can’t betray their trust in you for keeping their data safe – do that and you destroy your brand.”
By improving tried and trusted CX channels, embracing digital technologies and rewarding loyal consumers, businesses have an opportunity to expand their market share and obtain financial growth. Ensuring this genuine value-exchange between a business and its consumers is essential, and transparency, trust and security are key.