5 key findings around customer trust in retail
Across every sector, trust is increasingly central to the customer experience and hence business success. Consumers want to buy from brands that they feel understand their needs, respect their time and deliver on their promises. We’ve found that 89% of consumers said that they would stop buying from a brand if trust broke down or would spend less than before.
Trust is particularly important to the retail sector. Consumers need to be sure that the food and drink they buy is safe, or that fashion retailers are not exploiting workers when manufacturing their clothes. As multiple cases on social media show, consumers are extremely quick to share their anger if they feel they have been let down or their trust betrayed, from a failed delivery to a poor in-store experience.
Our 2019 Eptica Retail Trust Study looked to find out how UK customers view retail customer experience, and what drives trust in brands. It combined consumer research with in-depth evaluations of leading fashion and food retailers, alongside three other sectors, researching their ability to deliver digital experiences that drive trust. The study highlights five key findings:
1. Trust starts with the basics – and retailers lead the way
When asked what built trust, consumers overwhelmingly pointed to getting the basics right. 63% said making processes easy was a top three factor, while 59% highlighted giving satisfactory and consistent answers as vital to creating trust. The positive news is that retailers are ahead of other sectors when it comes to delivering on this. Fashion retailers successfully responded to 60% of all queries on the web, email, Twitter and Facebook, just ahead of food and drink retailers on 59%. This made them the top two sectors in the Study, above banking, travel and insurance. Showing the link between performance and trust, food and drink retailers were ranked as the most trusted sector by 21% of consumers. In comparison, banks and airlines were both voted as most trusted by 3% of those surveyed.
However, the overall positive picture masks many problems. Answering 60% of queries accurately clearly means that 40% don’t get a satisfactory reply (or in some cases, don’t get a reply at all).
2. Retailers are not enabling multichannel conversations
Performance varies considerably between channels, with a definite bias towards the web. While retailers answered 83% of questions asked on their websites, they successfully responded to 38% of those on Twitter, 50% on Facebook and 68% on email. This is despite the same questions being asked on all three of those channels – clearly, retail brands are not sharing knowledge or resources between teams. Demonstrating this one fashion retailer took 50 hours to reply to a question about ethical sourcing policies on Twitter, 3.5 hours on email and 3 hours on Facebook. This lack of consistent speed undermines trust – consumers want to use their channel of choice and get fast, accurate answers every time.
3. Speed has improved
In some areas, retail performance has worsened since previous research. In 2017 brands answered 50% of queries on Twitter, an average response rate that has dropped to 38% this year. On the positive side, the time taken to reply has dropped or remained static on every channel. So, in the case of email, retailers may have answered fewer questions, but if you were lucky enough to get a reply, it came in an average time of 10 hours 19 minutes, rather than 24 hours 12 minutes in 2017. Facebook was over four times faster than in 2017, with an average response time of just 43 minutes.
4. Chat is progressing, slowly
One of the key benefits of physical stores is that consumers can ask staff for help and advice. In the digital world, chat provides the ability to deliver a similar personal experience, enabling consumers to receive a real-time response to their individual query. The result is greater trust, and fewer abandoned shopping baskets, directly benefiting the bottom line.
Reflecting this, 50% of retailers advertised chat on their website, up from a third in 2017. However, the channel is suffering from resourcing issues – when tested, many brands didn’t have chat operational. This means that just 35% of retailers were able to answer queries by chat when evaluated. Not only is this a missed opportunity, but it also impacts trust as retailers don’t deliver on their promises of offering the channel to consumers.
5. Retailers are not listening continuously
Retail is a constantly changing, incredibly competitive sector. Ensuring you understand and meet customer needs is therefore vital if you want to thrive. Yet, 92% of consumers questioned felt that brands didn’t listen to them all the time. Only a quarter (26%) said that their voice was heard half the time or more. Failing to listen to the Voice of the Customer undermines trust and means that brands miss out on the actionable insight that customers can provide to improve processes, products and services and drive loyalty,
At a time when digitalization is transforming the retail sector, brands face multiple challenges if they are to thrive. As the 2019 Eptica Retail Trust Study shows, while many are looking to listen and improve the digital customer experience, they still have considerable issues to overcome if they are to successfully build trust and consumer loyalty.
Download a full copy of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, including a breakdown of the retail results here.