The importance of trust to customer experience in 2019
The balance of power between brands and consumers is shifting, with customers now wielding greater influence and control. This allows them to be more demanding and less loyal than ever before. But what makes these customers tick and how will their characteristics evolve? In a previous blog we looked at the skills the agent of the future will need – in this post Eptica’s CEO, Olivier Njamfa shares his thoughts about the customer of the future. According to him, there are five important traits that are likely to define the customer next year and beyond.
1. They demand speed
Consumers are growing increasingly impatient. One in five want brands to respond to their emails within 15 minutes, and 33% within half an hour, according to Eptica research. 72% expect a brand to answer them within 30 minutes on Facebook and 81% want replies in the same timeframe on Twitter.
Consumers want responses and service now, as well as demanding that brand interactions are easy and take place on the channels they prefer to use. And with 91% of consumers frustrated if they don’t find online answers quickly brands will have to make the customer experience fast, simple and straightforward.
2. They want brands to be always-on
We live in a 24x7 world, with all of us carrying smartphones that we check and use hundreds of times every day. This means that consumerswant to be able to interact with brands whenever it’s convenient for them - not when the brand dictates.
For the customer of the future there will be no such thing as “office opening hours”. Even now, brands need to be able to respond to customers round-the-clock. That could be via live agents, but now it’s increasingly possible to interact with customers without human contact. For example Eptica research reveals that 81% of UK consumers are happy to use self-service technology to get fast answers to their queries – while 54% are already using or would be willing to use chatbots or intelligent voice assistants to interact with brands.
3. Trust is crucial
Customers want to engage with open brands that are transparent and trustworthy. However, trust is easily lost - consumers are suspicious of brands that fail to deliver on their promises and undermine the relationship.
That’s why rather than relying on advertising or traditional marketing communications driven by brands, consumers now prefer to do their own research when deciding which companies to buy from. This includes listening to the opinions of family and friends as well as influencers on their social networks and forums. In fact research suggests 90% of consumers now trust references from their peers - and these peer references are 7x more trusted compared to the messages brands communicate through adverts.
This means that brands need to work harder to be present on and engage in conversations with customers and influencers on channels such as social media and online forums. Otherwise consumers will lose trust and stop buying from you, while complaining to their peers. They want companies to be open – 88% of consumers in the UK, and 85% in France, say they expect brands to be more transparent and provide more detailed information than five years ago.
4. They look beyond product offerings to experiences
Customers are moving to an experience-based economy, often valuing experiences and service above products. Witness how consumers have embraced the likes of Amazon and Netflix because of the excellence of the customer experience they deliver.
At the same time, many have moved from owning to renting products, such as swapping CDs for streaming music services such as Spotify. These subscription services rely on a continued high quality customer experience, as consumers have the flexibility to cancel at short notice. This means the service provided has to be excellent not just up to the point of sale, but beyond it.
5. They want emotional engagement AND technology
Even though customers are now extremely tech-savvy and willing to self-serve, they don’t want to solely communicate through technology. They prefer to have a choice of human and tech interactions depending on their need. For example a study by Accenture reveals 71% of British consumers want to deal with a human when they are looking for advice.
Customers value the emotional understanding and empathy that human customer service agents can provide, so brands need to strike a balance between using automation and AI and involving human agents.
As brands look towards 2019, the customer landscape and what is important to consumers is changing. Brands therefore have to make sure they have a good understanding of the needs and desires of their customers and are building trust in order to satisfy them if they want to thrive next year and beyond.