Customer experience is in crisis. The average customer is more astute and more vocal than ever, but as online consumption soared during the pandemic, brands just couldn’t keep up. Keith Povey, Director of Marketing at verified reviews and customer insights platform Feefo, explains how to reconnect with your audience as we emerge from lockdowns.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we saw the average customer service rating drop by an astonishing 18.5%, with people 29% more likely to respond with purchase feedback. Of course, it’s fantastic customers are more engaged, but it can be a problem if you can’t communicate with a customer constructively, or understand the sentiment behind what they’re saying, due to sheer volume. Above all, you don’t want to lose the connection which is so invaluable in nurturing a long-term relationship and ensuring repeat custom just because you simply didn’t know what to improve and how.
Customers now need, and expect, more communication and more of a connection than ever before. And that’s in addition to an exceptional purchase experience.
For marketers and customer experience, this is a watershed moment. It’s time for a rethink on how we connect with our customer base.
Know your customer better than they know themselves
After a year where our natural rhythms have been so disrupted, customers are more than ever basing their decisions on complicated, sometimes even subconscious, factors shaped by a myriad of emotions, values and beliefs.
By taking the time to understand these underlying opinions, you ensure you can anticipate and act on changing behaviours even before your customers voice their concerns. Tools which enable a view of overarching customer sentiment via AI, the discovery of themes in customer review data and targeted, persona specific surveys are critical.
Understanding changing sentiment and, crucially, gleaning actionable insights from analysis puts you in a stronger position to craft a compelling user experience fit for purpose in this post-pandemic world.
Be more Amazon
Sure, we all love to hate Amazon, but they do what they do incredibly well. Instant gratification and convenience have become standard during the last year.
No one expects a smaller brand to take on Amazon when it comes to logistical expertise, but there’s still a case to make to the C suite here. Investing more in speed of delivery and making the shopping experience as smooth as possible is now a given, not just a bonus.
The demand for instant and constant communication has only intensified during the last year. And marketers must rise to the challenge. When we asked our merchants, they revealed that 29% of their customers specified slow response times as a key brand turn off.
For example, one of our merchants, digital pet insurer Bought by Many, has introduced a 24/7 digital vet service for nervous pet owners unwilling to endure anxious waits.
With so much of our lives now spent online and thousands of digital businesses created during the past year, more and more brands are clamouring for our attention. To stand out, marketers should deliver digital experiences which not only satisfy, but delight. Leading nursery brand Mamas & Papas introduced a digital personal shopper to show prospective purchasers exactly how a pushchair might work. The service scored 4.8/5 for customer satisfaction on the same day it was introduced.
Presenting a united front
When a customer chooses your brand, they expect a consistent quality of experience. Easier said than done when you are trying to manage a customer service team remotely and onboard new staff. Even as we slowly return to normal, investing in communicating and connecting with your team remotely is critical to ensure that the right messages and behaviours are replicated externally.
Move with the times
With external factors changing so rapidly, marketers increasingly have a vital role to play in connecting with customers and feeding back to C suite on their evolving needs to help adapt services accordingly. A great example of this comes from Bought By Many. In response to dog thefts doubling in 2020, and many customers struggling financially, the insurer introduced support from the Blue Cross bereavement helplines for those whose pets had been stolen and payments plans for those no longer able to keep up with their instalments.
Getting ahead of this paradigm means not having to play catch up a few months down the line. The federation of small businesses estimated that 407,150 new businesses were created in the UK in 2020, many in online retail. At a time when increased competition and rising customer expectations are creating a cut-throat market, shaping your processes in line with the evolving popular zeitgeist has never been more important.
By Keith Povey