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ANALYSIS Five ways customer behaviour is changing

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Customer demands are rising at a breakneck pace, yet for retailers, there’s more focus than ever on striving to deliver a consumer experience that genuinely differentiates. Here are five aspects of customer behaviour, identified in recent studies, that offer retailers new insights into how to give consumers what they really want. 

Demand for personalisation

From product recommendations to proactive service, customers expect engagement that’s uniquely personalised. What’s interesting is that customers desire seamlessly connected and contextualised interactions at every shopping touchpoint. In fact, according to Salesforce research, State of the Connected Consumer, 70% of the 6,700 customers who took part in the study say that process is a key part of what makes them opt for one retailer over another.

Technology sets a new benchmark for innovation 

As technology evolves, shoppers have been conditioned to expect new technology and better experiences. Shoppers are far more likely to view emerging technology as revolutionary, rather than hyped, with AI playing an increasingly prominent role in their daily lives. Salesforce found that more than half (56%) say they actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.

Customers balance personalisation and privacy amid a crisis of trust

Delivering a tailored customer experience requires a 360-degree view of an individual. Even so, more than a half (55%) of respondents are uncomfortable with how their data is used, Salesforce found. Consumers say retailers can earn their trust by taking steps such as giving them control over how their data is applied and being transparent about how it’s used. Some 86% of survey participants say that they are more likely to trust brands with their personal data if they explain how it provides a better experience.

Customers expectations hit all-time highs 

Companies focused on quick sales will face strong headwinds in today’s customer landscape. Shoppers take their time when evaluating purchases — whether comparing options online, asking friends on social media for references or using a different device at different points of the journey. Winning customers today requires demonstrating a firm understanding of their unique needs, objectives, and circumstances. It also takes an ongoing investment in the relationship well after the deal is done. In fact, 61% of customers say a commitment to their success or satisfaction strengthens their loyalty, according to Salesforce.

Physical retail isn’t dead, but the customer experience is

More than a half (60%) of shopping done by UK respondents still takes place in a physical store, though that number is shifting, according to the latest Global Benchmark Study from Mitel, which interviewed 5,000 shoppers around the world.

When asked about the challenges faced by today’s bricks-and-mortar retail outlets, 60% of respondents in the UK say the fact retail stores are struggling has more to do with the customer experience they provide, not products. Nearly half (49%) reveal that “customer service just doesn’t exist any longer.”

A seamless omnichannel approach is critical for this market. Chatbots can be used to manage simple tasks, while IoT and team collaboration tools open up new avenues for communications across media, whether it’s voice, email, SMS, web chat, social media or a website.

“As physical and digital worlds begin to seamlessly intersect, how effectively a company serves its customers across both domains determines tomorrow’s winners and losers,” says Jon Brinton, senior vice president of customer experience solutions at Mitel.

“By supplementing existing applications and investments with new technologies such as AI, team collaboration and IoT, companies can better communicate and collaborate internally and externally and begin to proactively deliver the level of customer experience buyers expect.”

“The data shows no matter where you are in the world, customer experience matters—bottom line,” said survey administrator Regina Corso of Regina Corso Consulting. “

“In order to truly connect with customers on their own terms, organisations must look for new ways to balance technology investments with personalised customer service. Those that are able to navigate this balance will go on to build strong brand loyalty with their customers, helping them succeed in today’s highly competitive purchasing environment.”

Image: Fotolia

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