What Customers Want - How well do you know your customers in 2022?
By: Jonathan Ryan, Regional Manager, Infobip ANZ
Way back in 2015, Gartner predicted that customer engagement would accelerate the velocity of digital transformation for businesses. They stated “the future of business is being led by customers. (In fact), they have the ability to rapidly and easily influence new and innovative business models.”
How right they were!
Fast forward seven years, one pandemic, and a revolution in digital uptake, where do we stand now and what are customers’ current expectations? More importantly, should businesses care?
The answer is a definite yes! A recent article in CMO Australia shared a key finding from PwC on how poor customer service can cost Australian businesses more than A$100 billion each year and lead to a third of customers moving to another brand as a result.
So, what can we learn from Infobip’s detailed research into the expectations of today’s consumers? The research was conducted in Europe but if anything, its findings on digital engagement are even more relevant for Australian businesses.
According to a Deloitte Australia report – Navigating the New Digital Divide – Australians have one of the highest appetites for digital engagement among developed nations.
“Digital interactions influence 40% of in-store visits in Australia, compared to 27% in the United Kingdom,” the report noted.
What exactly does that mean for brands’ day to day interactions with their customers and prospects?
What consumers really want
As Gartner predicted, consumers now dictate the engagement strategies that brands adopt. Perceptions have changed completely in a short period and as the Tech Trends 2022 report from Deloitte Insights reveals, customers now expect outstanding digital and physical experiences with all brand interactions.
So having a great eCommerce website and catchy digital marketing campaigns don’t guarantee success – Infobip’s study revealed that 74% of customers find business messaging lacks a personalized, human connection.
This is backed up by PwC in a recent article which sums up this desire for authentic experiences very eloquently:
“What truly makes for a good experience? Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness. And human touch—that is, creating real connections by making technology feel more human and giving employees what they need to create better customer experiences.”
The Infobip study backs this up but also shows that they might have missed another key pillar of a great customer experience. Consistency. It is no use providing a friendly service if you forget the customer as soon as they walk out of the door, or don’t recognize them when they contact you on another channel.
As the study notes – you can’t build solid relationships by constantly re-starting conversations from scratch. By focusing more on mass campaigns with broad customer appeal, retailers miss out on building loyalty through personalized, data-driven contextual communication.
We think this is even more important in Australia. The study showed that 40% of French consumers and 20% of Brits were most annoyed by having to repeat details to customer service agent. We feel that these figures would be even higher in Australia, where patience in the face of inept service is not a national trait.
It just makes sense – the combination of an excellent product and a positive experience for your customers means that they will remain loyal. As the study notes, 54% of consumers said they will purchase more from brands they’ve had a positive experience with.
However, never forget that regardless of the quality of product and messaging, people are ultimately more loyal to their needs at a particular moment than they are to any brand. This means that it is crucial to deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time and to do this successfully at scale, automation is required.
Balancing automation with the human touch
There is clearly a line for businesses to walk – on the one hand customers are almost unanimously saying that they expect more personalized communication from the brands they deal with, but these same businesses need to deploy automation use cases to achieve this.
While this approach may be perfectly acceptable to Australian consumers, the same cannot be said for the APAC region as a whole. Another study commissioned by Infobip of consumers in eleven Asian countries from China to Indonesia showed clearly that are pronounced differences in consumers’ appetites for automated interactions.
The Human-Automated Impact on APAC CX notes that even within individual countries there are significant differences in digital engagement across the identified customer personas.
For business that operate across the APAC region, a degree of flexibility is required due to these range of preferences and levels of digital adoption. In more than half of the countries surveyed, respondents indicated that the prefer to interact with a human, either on the phone, via online chat, or via social media.
There is a clear need for brands to invest in platforms that support a hybrid approach that allows retailers to tailor their approach for individual markets and even individuals themselves. There are very few software vendors that can support engagement initiatives that include web, live chat, messaging app, chatbot and voice interactions.
Retailers not only have to provide an omnichannel experience, but they also have to ensure that all channels operate both seamlessly and symbiotically, with consistent and effective authentication throughout the customer journey.
As the Infobip study states “Nearly 20% of shoppers will not complete purchases if they don’t feel secure“.
Preparing retail businesses for digital success
With its study Infobip aims to help brands make informed decisions about the direction of their digital engagement strategies, backed up by solid research and good data.
There is no doubt that businesses that digitalise can respond more quickly to changing customer preferences and shopping habits. This allows them to extend their engagement capabilities and connect with a wider audience.
Make sure that you download a copy of Infobip’s retail study so that you can really understand your customers and their expectations as you plan for 2023 and beyond – What Customers Want – A Retailers Guide to Digital Customer Experience.