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How the UK customer experience might be improved: research

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Three pieces of research out this week have interesting findings on how UK retailers might tweak their customer service in order to persuade more shoppers to buy from them. Here are some of the headlines.

Answering customer queries consistently

Some 93% of the 1,000 consumers questioned for the 2017 Eptica Retail Conversation Study said they were more likely to buy if they had a positive customer experience. Some 69% said their expectations of service were only rising. But when researchers put questions via the web, email, social media and chat to 40 UK retailers from the fashion, consumer electronics, food and drink and entertainment sectors and analysed their responses, they found that retailers seemed to be settling for an average level of service. The study found companies unable to answer 46% of customer queries received on email, the web, Twitter and Facebook, with only 7.5% responding on all four channels – and still fewer – 2.5% – providing a consistent, accurate answer across all of them. It found a fall in the number of questioned answered on Facebook, which fell by 20% on last year’s study to 39%. Only 44% (45% in 2015) of tweets and 62% (65% in 2015) of web queries received a successful response.

Under half (47%) of consumers said they were happy with the experience received on the web, email, social media and chat and under a third (32%) of consumers were satisfied with retail service on Twitter, 38% on Facebook, 51% on chat, 56% on the web and 59% on email. In-store, by contrast, 78% were happy with the service they received.

“Consumers today demand a high quality experience from retailers – whatever channel they use to make contact,” said Olivier Njamfa, chief executive and co-founder of Eptica. “They value having a real-time conversation, yet too many retailers are letting them down, settling for average service at best, rather than delivering an experience that will drive long term loyalty.”

Adding the personal touch

Some 62% of UK marketers said they did not use personalisation in their campaigns, according to Episerver’s new State of Digital Commerce report.

The study found that only 38% of marketers incorporate personalisation into their current promotional approach, but that figure drops to as little as one in 10 among businesses with turnovers of £100,000 or less. For many marketers the failure to personalise campaigns may come down to a lack of in-depth understanding of customers, with 46% of marketers believing that a lack of sufficient insight into the customer journey is holding back their ability to create a truly omnichannel experience.

The majority of marketers are now using mobile, web and email content within their campaigns, yet more tailored content such as personalisation, geo-targeting and A/B tests are used by the minority across modern marketing campaigns.

Joey Moore, head of product marketing at Episerver, said: “In 2017, personalised content and recommendations should be an integral part of any marketing initiative and it’s surprising to see so few marketers incorporating personalisation into their approach. As it stands there are more marketers promoting their brand through print catalogues than there are using basic personalisation techniques such as geo-targeting and triggered cart-abandonment emails.

“When it comes to online retailing in particular, if brands are going to compete with the likes of Amazon they must look to generate a higher quality of customer experiences. By incorporating personalised content, marketers can drastically shorten the sales cycle, providing customers with the products they require quickly and without the need to shop around. In many cases, the use of personalisation can drastically increase the effectiveness of an online campaign, which is beneficial for both the retailer and the consumer.”

Trying new technologies

Most consumers are comfortable talking with a chatbot yet only a fraction have engaged with one, according to the 2017 Mobile Consumer Report from Vibes, a leader in mobile engagement used by top brands to deliver targeted, personalized mobile experiences.

In addition to under-indexed chatbot usage, the report uncovered a number of insights into consumer perceptions and preferences about how they want to interact with brands on their phones via text messages, mobile wallet, push notifications, apps and more.

Consumers are open to engaging with brands on mobile in a way that is unlike any other channel, said Jack Philbin, co-founder and CEO of Vibes.

The report goes on to show that more than 60% of consumers would feel comfortable talking with a chatbot, yet only 22% have actually done so, suggesting marketers should accelerate efforts to deliver mobile engagement experiences on this emerging channel.

Seventy per cent of consumers would have a more positive opinion of a brand that allowed them to save a plastic loyalty card in their smartphone. More than one-third of people store information from brands in mobile wallets such as Apple Wallet and Android Pay, which can also be used to store and manage loyalty programmes.

On average, says the report. smartphone users feel comfortable subscribing to four mobile alerts, highlighting the limited inventory available to brands seeking to connect with consumers. These users are most likely to sign up for mobile alerts from retailers, restaurants and brands (50%), followed by weather and radio stations (37%) and financial institutions (34%).

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