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Age Of The On-Demand Consumer Requires Faster And Smarter Responses — Or Else

Half of consumers surveyed by the CMO Council say they will reject a brand and take their money elsewhere if they receive poor, impersonal or frustrating customer experience.

The connected consumer is not looking for “omnichannel perfection,” but they do have a short list of critical channels they expect to have access to, including company website, email, a phone number to call, and a knowledgeable salesperson to speak with, a CMO Council survey finds.

And if they are not satisfied with the access to a business’s info, roughly half of consumers suggest they’re likely to take their money elsewhere, the survey of 2,000 consumers, The Customer in Context, says.

Among the findings of the CMO survey, which was conducted with  SAP Hybris, 52 percent say they expected fast response times to needs, suggestions or issues, and 47 percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed.

Other elements like “always-on assisted service” (8 percent), brand-developed social communities to connect consumers with other fans (9 percent), were lower down the list of requirements for customer satisfaction.

While there’s been a lot of focus on mobile payment and online shopping/in-store pickup, the issues associated with the frictionless shopping experience are not top of mind for consumers.

As the report shows, it’s the basics of commerce that continue to stand between shoppers and brands.

Points Of Frustration

Many consumers face common complaints while engaging with brands, chief among them being price increases on products while failing to see added value or improvements to the products in question.

The second most common frustration (36 percent of respondents) is that loyalty is often recognized as transactional, based on points, instead of offering a real sense of personalization.

As result, loyal consumers who do not feel that their regularity isn’t recognized will more readily abandon a brand. About 47 percent say they will stop doing business with a business if they don’t feel the basic services of loyalty are met. While 32 percent of consumers would email the company to complain and 29 percent would tell all family and friends, the overwhelming reaction to frustration was to abandon the brand and spend their money elsewhere.

“Today, the differentiator isn’t whether we are able to individualize an experience, but rather having the insight and intelligence to know where, when and how a customer expects to be greeted with value and relevance,” explained Liz Miller, SVP at the CMO Council. “Consumers don’t need personalization at every moment. But what this research amplifies is the requirement to get relevant, personalized experiences right for an audience of one in their micro-moment of need.”

On A Positive Note…

In general, consumers felt that brands were doing a fairly good job of delivering on the primary aspects of the customer experience. One-in -four consumers say that brands are “delivering personalized and relevant engagements across critical touchpoints.”

However, there is still work to be done as 38 percent say brands are almost there, and 22 percent say that brands are delivering, but only in digital channels.

The report also cited a generational divide, as Millennial respondents were more likely to acknowledge that brands were delivering relevance, albeit only in digital channels, while Generation X respondents felt that brands were struggling to deliver, and boomers felt brands were a long way off.

The other findings rounding out the report:

  • 70 percent of consumers are willing to share some degree of their personal data with brands
  • But… only 22 percent say they will only share data if it is being used to deliver more relevant and better offers.
  • Don’t underestimate the value exchange that consumers expect. Value is clearly defined as something that saves money (77 percent), saves time (49 percent) or makes life easier (47 percent).

There’s a gender divide present as well: men prefer mostly digital experiences (61 percent), while women (59 percent) are more agnostic, saying no channel really meets all of their needs.

“Perhaps this is why the top frustration for women ties back to the disconnect in physical and digital experiences as they are most irked by buying something online and not being able to return it in store (56 percent),” the report states. “Men, on the other hand, are most frustrated by constantly feeling the brands they do business with know nothing about them.”

In the end, personalization needs to be the over-arching goal for CMOs and the brands they serve.

“Every customer takes a different path to their purchase, and our responsibility as brand leaders is to ensure that we are at the ready to greet them, not as strangers, but with the empathy, value and context they have earned as our customer,” says Jamie Anderson, SAP Hybris’s CMO. “What this research proves is that we risk our own business success if we continue to leave our customer’s voice out of our experience strategies. If we fail to deliver value, we fail to close that deal because our customer has left to do business with a competitor that has taken the time to respond, react and deliver relevance regardless of channel or location.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.