There’s a fascinating discussion in the LinkedIn group “Building the Customer-Centric Organization.” Over 100 comments were generated debating what “customer-centric” really means and what kind of relationship customers want. Some contend that consumers increasingly have the attitude “just give me my stuff and leave me alone.”
I disagree, but that’s just one more opinion. Only good research will answer a complicated question like this. With impeccable timing, Forrester Research provided me a complimentary copy of a new report Brand Engagement The Consumer Way, which provides a more nuanced answer.
In short, it depends!
Consumers engage to get deals, learn
In brand interactions, “More than half of US online consumers who interact with brands they like do so to get deals, discounts, and special promotions; four in 10 do so to get free samples.” Another 1/3 interact to learn more about the brand.
Joining an email list (60%) or a loyalty program (47%) were the two most popular methods of interaction.
Clearly, “leave me alone” is not the dominant attitude. Plenty of consumers do want to engage with sellers and welcome communications.
Consumers: “Impress me with quality and value”
Furthermore, the study found that more than 50% of “US online consumers say they are or may be willing to pay a higher price for a product or service from a brand that is able to impress
them with its customer interactions.”
What does it take to impress a consumer? The top 3 reasons to recommend a brand were:
- Good quality of products and services (59%)
- Good value of products and services (54%)
- Good discounts, deals and promotions (51%)
To be sure, there are other factors, including customer service (more on that in a moment), but I think it’s obvious from this study that “give me good stuff and good value” is a common consumer attitude.
Customer service going digital? Not so fast
What about customer service? While not a top driver of advocacy behavior, roughly 30-40% of consumers who said they “frequently” or “sometimes” recommended a brand, product or service did so because of customer service/support that was “knowledgeable,” “fast or convenient,” or “friendly.”
Forrester analyst Gina Sverdlov also explored what channels consumers used to solve a problem with a recent purchase. As you can see from the chart below, going to a physical location or making a phone call were the two most popular methods, except for online purchases where phone and email were the top choices.
Consumers used offline channels because they thought it was the fastest (35%) or easiest (23%) option. But these were the same factors driving online channel usage.
So if you want to drive more online service, just show your consumers it’s the fastest and easiest. Simple!
Do you know what really drives your customers’ behavior?
This report proves once again that driving consumer loyalty is not as simple as providing great service or even a great experience. Providing “the right stuff” at a fair price is still critical.
Furthermore, traditional service/support channels are not going away anytime soon. The shift to digital channels will happen when consumers are convinced these are more effective.
It’s time to move beyond debating opinions and learn that consumers don’t all want to engage, or get service, exactly the same way. Better yet, it’s time to do your own research with your own customers.
This is truly an outstanding report. If I had five hands I’d give it five “thumbs up.” More details about the report are available at Forrester.