IBM has recently released the findings of their 2015 Global Smarter Consumer Study and the insights are important for all brands to consider. Overall online sales are up but brand loyalty and engagement is down; understanding why this is the case is imperative to surviving 2015 and beyond.
Online sales represented 15% of all sales and are on track to reach 20% during 2015 – if you are not offering an online sales option to your consumer then you run the risk of being left behind while opening up an opportunity for your competitors who are online to outstrip your business.
According to Anna McPhee, Retail Council Chief Executive, ‘The convergence of digital and physical retail channels is being driven by consumers’ desire for more convenience, and it’s up to retailers to deliver a seamless service. Doing things smarter and faster requires agile thinking and organisations are working to improve mobile, online and in-store fulfilment.’
The study also found a decline in both engagement and brand loyalty, driven by a lack of personalised services; consumers in 2015 do not want to be just a number, even if they only have a virtual or online relationship with you.
Brand loyalty dropped from 13% in 2013 to 10% in 2014, a trend expected to continue throughout 2015. And the proportion of unengaged consumers rose from 24% in 2013 to a staggering 37% in 2014.
‘Loyalty should never be expected by a retailer, it has to be earned. Customers increasingly trust other customers and are really listening to the pulse on social media,’ Paul Greenberg, National Online Retailers Association Executive Chairman.
Another startling outcome of the study was the longer term behaviours of consumers; while 10% of consumers were acting as brand advocates, 37% were identified as antagonists.
So what can brands learn from the findings of the 2015 Global Smarter Consumer Study? Consumers in 2015 want personalised service, they want multiple touchpoints (buy online, pick up in store or even vice versa), and they want to be engaged and valued. Today’s consumers represent an opportunity to build a long lasting relationship for repeat custom and referrals. Never lose sight of the fact that your revenue, your profit and your business success is based on one very important factor; your customers.
Top ten tips for keeping your customers happy in 2015:
- Don’t argue with them – okay we all know that the customer isn’t always right but fighting about it will only do damage to your brand. Remain professional and approachable at all times and avoid arguments at all costs.
- Keep your promises – pretty self-explanatory.
- Be flexible in your policies – even if you need to eventually say no to a customer make sure that you do so with respect, dignity and after all other avenues to help the customer have been exhausted.
- Listen to your customers – to know your customers is to provide them with a better service.
- Control your social media and your digital profile – don’t just delete negative postings, deal with it and try and work it out but never, ever just ignore it or lie to try and make the situation better.
- Be available – ensure that even outside of normal trading hours that your customers can get information from you. A great way to achieve this is with FAQs on your website – done well this page can act as an after-hours customer service resource.
- Don’t treat your employees or team badly – might not seem like this tip has much to do with your customers but consider this; if you treat your team badly why could you expect that they would treat your customers any differently.
- Ensure your systems work – your customer service systems need to evolve with the desires of your customers – it can’t be a set and forget activity. If the majority of your customers require answers on the weekend you might need to consider employing a customer service representative to work those hours.
- Don’t use a small amount of feedback only – the best advice is to not change your products, services, approach and policies based on the feedback from a small number of customers. This overreacting could be detrimental to your brand in the long term. Don’t let the minority rule.
- Don’t be offensively exclusive – regardless of your branding or the perceived exclusivity of your products and services, pushing too far in that direction will just alienate other customers.
Contact your local branding agency Liquid Creativity today to learn more about how to understand and connect with the consumers of 2015.