With the arrival of Amazon Prime set to cast a very long shadow of rising expectations over the Australian consumer landscape, brands across the board are going to have to work harder to gain and maintain the satisfaction and loyalty of their customers. Providing a meaningful customer experience is no longer a nice to have, but a necessity if a brand is to succeed and compete against a behemoth with the humble mission of becoming the ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company’.
Amidst this fundamental shift in what customers are experiencing, 43% of Australian consumers admitted to having a bad brand encounter over the last year that has stuck with them. In addition, just under a third (28%) of consumers, said they would respond to a negative experience by not shopping with a brand again.
Brands are also more optimistic about the good experiences they are delivering, with 80% saying they are delivering memorable experiences. Consumers peg that at 70%, a healthy number, but still 10 points below what brands estimate.
So why is there such a disconnect between brands and consumers, and what can companies do to ensure that they create a customer experience that doesn’t just satisfy, but remains memorable, influencing customers to come back often, spend more, and engage in priceless word-of-mouth advocacy that simply can’t be bought? The research also provided a few tips:
1. Find the balance between personal and creepy
While marketers are trying to better engage through personalisation, our research shows that their strategy is frequently backfiring and actually driving customers away.
70% of Australian consumers admit to finding most forms of personalisation “creepy”. What is even more shocking is the number of brands that admit that their own personalisation efforts are creepy. Over a third of brands admit to using creepy marketing tactics. With one in three Australians declaring they would stop using a brand after a “creepy experience” of personalisation the business risk is real.
Customer demographic and behavioural information is obviously a rich source of insights that can help brands offer a better, more personal experience to consumers. While this works en masse, when applied to an individual consumer during a single transaction, the approach must be particularly nuanced. Brands need to find the right balance and offer genuine value in exchange for a true and beneficial personalised experience.
2. Be human
The human element can make or break a customer experience. A brand’s employees are its most influential ambassadors. Over two-thirds of consumers report staff interaction as the most significant and frequent contributor to positive brand experiences, and the majority of these positive experiences were in-person. Investing in hiring processes and training programs can help with this. Conversely, poor staff attitude, lack of knowledge and bad service created negative experiences. Getting the right personalities in the right place with the right skills is key to ensuring good relationships between consumers and brands.
3. Find a purpose and communicate it
Our research shows that Australian customers connect more with brands that take an active interest in social causes that impact their local communities. 69% of Australian consumers want brands to be more purpose driven by advocating causes they care about. What’s more is that 25% of the causes consumers want brands to be aligned next to are community-based causes.
Finding a purpose and supporting local causes creates an additional opportunity for brands to connect with customers in a meaningful way, and build long-lasting relationships and emotional connections with the community.
4. Watch the social gap
One of the largest areas of disconnect between brands and consumers is how they view social media. Brands put considerably more emphasis on the ability of social media as an element of memorable, positive experiences. Only 6.6% of consumers report social media as a contributor in comparison to 31% of brands. This tells us that while social media is an important interaction forum, it is not something that significantly defines the customer relationship. Because of its public nature, brands often put more resources toward solving issues raised in social forums. Giving equal focus to all touch-points in the CX experience will ensure the business takes a more holistic view whether or not they’re meeting expectations, as well as what needs fixing, new ideas, and which elements should be elevated.