Consumer profile and behaviour has been changing in recent years. If previously the Internet was only used as a search engine, now, in addition to expanding the range of products or brands accessible to everyone, it also promotes the sharing of feedback between customers. This practice has become common to all kinds of products and services, which has pressured businesses to ensure service excellence for each customer, as they may become promoters, or detractors, of the brand.
Technological evolution, combined with the low cost of mobile devices, facilitates the access to information at any time and place. The huge amount of data available at the click of a finger has transformed competition from a local phenomenon into a global and borderless reality.
The management of the relationship with the customer and the quality of the service provided is, more than ever, decisive for the success of any business. 15 years ago, consumers had an average of 2 contact points before each purchase, with only 7% regularly making more than 4 contacts. Today, consumers ensure that each purchase is made with as much information as possible, with an average of 6 points of contact for each transaction, with 50% of consumers regularly making more than 4 contacts. Today's consumers demand an intuitive purchasing experience, with the minimum of steps required and with a flexible and customised service.
- Service Flexibility
Currently, customers are online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For this reason, 64% of online buyers consider the possibility of buying at any time or day as a differentiating factor in their purchase decision. In addition to immediate access to information, customers value the possibility of complete purchases immediately, so the instant service is valued by 63% of the respondents.
Exclusively face-to-face service, where the customer is limited by the availability of products in stock and the opening hours of the space, becomes less attractive to the consumers who currently have at their disposal offers from anywhere in the world.
In preparation for the purchase, potential customers look for and compare different options to meet their needs. In addition to the product/service features provided by the brand, gathering feedback from other consumers is increasingly a determining factor in preparing the purchase. Each buyer who considers the purchase process as positive is three times more likely to recommend the brand to other potential buyers.
The presence of brands on social networks also fosters a constant sharing of experiences. These shares should not be overlooked by brands, as they contain valuable insights for improving the products and services provided.
68% of consumers say that personalised experiences are important to the process of selection and purchase. The personalised experience includes answering questions regarding product characteristics, customisation of specifications or a tailored delivery service. The reinforcement of the quality of the service provided and the options made available should not be seen as a commercial cost, but rather as an investment, since 55% of customers are willing to pay more to ensure a better service.
How to meet customers’ expectations?
The ease of contact between brands and consumers is crucial to ensure the alignment between the expectations and the service provided. Thus, the diversification of means of contact such as telephone, website, social networks, helpdesk, or chat is essential to ensure that this communication is agile, flexible, and available to all. A fast and effective service not only improves brand credibility but also consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
To satisfy the current customer it is essential to ensure that the digital tools are integrated with the offline service, eliminating the discrepancy between the physical and virtual. The integration and unification of interaction channels between the consumer and the salesperson, through an omnichannel strategy is the key. This concept is increasingly present, and an omnichannel company differs itself from the rest by having its communication channels designed to work in a perfect symbiosis.
This concept results from the evolution of multichannel contact, where the customer was provided with several disconnected platforms to make the purchase. The diversity of non-integrated channels was initially seen as a commercial evolution, however, it was a source of operational difficulties and an unsatisfactory experience for the customer.
From the customer's perspective, the integration of the several channels ensures a coherent and satisfactory brand interaction experience, regardless of the channel used. The brand delivers the same message, with the same level of service independently of the customer interaction platform. The coordinated presence between different platforms allows the purchase process to begin in one channel and end in another, always with the same experience and quality for the user.
From a business perspective, the synchronic operation in different channels facilitates the coordination of the transactions to be performed, ensuring that there is no information loss. In addition, the brand expands its area of operation to a globalised market. This way, the brand reaches different languages, time zones and cultures, always with the same service level.
An improvement in the consumer's experience translates into revenue growth of 10 to 15% and a decrease of 15 to 20% in operating costs. The transition to a multi-channel model should follow a structured process:
1. Collect the Voice of Customer (VOC) and its perception of value in order to design the user experience that will maximise the conversion rate of the different channels;
2. Automate repetitive tasks with no value added, allowing to free teams’ time to work on customer support, process improvement and lead follow-up;
3. Define the process for improving the customer's experience, through the monitoring of key indicators that allow the gathering of insights and consequent implementation of improvements to the service provided;
4. To unify the operations of the different sales channels, allowing the monitoring of the customers, their experience and feedback in a holistic way.
A customer who is satisfied with the product, but above all with the brand, will have a higher probability of loyalty and will attract other potential customers. The increase in sales volume depends more and more on the approximation of the customer's expectations to the service provided, so it is essential to review and adapt the strategy to market needs. Collecting the Voice of Customer should be a priority and the starting point for designing an effective commercial strategy.