The question of what makes shoppers choose one retailer over another has vexed the industry for years; some believe price matters most, others the quality of the goods, but according to a new study it is customer experience which is the deciding factor, and, worryingly for retailers, standards are slipping.
So says data-driven customer engagement solutions company Engage Hub, which reveals retailers are under-delivering on customer experience, with 22% of respondents indicating standards have declined in the last year.
Over half (52%) of consumers believe retailers could improve the customer experience by being seen to take feedback on board better, and 41% want to see retailers provide more tailored offers.
The research, designed to better understand how fragile a customer’s relationship with retailers can be, also found that when consumers started shopping elsewhere, better in-store experience (35%), better delivery options (26%) and targeted promotions (26%) were key factors in their decision to switch.
Indeed, where retailers have got it right, 48% of consumers believed that good communication was having the biggest impact on their overall experience. This was along with how positively they dealt with a complaint (37%) and where they were treated like an individual (34%).
Despite 73% of consumers believing retailers consider the customer’s experience to be an important part of the service they deliver, a third (33%) believe the feedback they give is either infrequently, or never acted upon. And 42% believe that being seen to take feedback on board would improve their experience with retailers.
Engage Hub vice-president of sales for Europe Simon Brennan said: “Retailers are under incredible pressure to innovate with their customer service and loyalty programmes, and it’s concerning to see so many people say that their experience is going in the wrong direction. Not only that, but when they speak out about poor customer service, feedback isn’t always being taken on board. What’s worse is this is clearly one of main ways that consumers believe that their experience could be improved.”
Some 62% of consumers have seen that technology has had a positive effect on customer experience. Just 13% believed that an over-reliance on technology had made the customer experience worse, indicating that in the main, technology is being deployed effectively by retailers to interact and engage with their customers.
Brennan added: “How retailers manage their customers’ experience is becoming a key competitive differentiator as the complexity of how it needs to be delivered increases. From tailoring offers to individual consumers with targeted campaigns, to a better range of delivery options, it’s crucial for customer experience professionals to better understand how the right customer experience will drive better loyalty.”
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