A lot has changed over the years, but if you ask today’s customers, a lot has stayed the same. According to an Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research Study, which has annually tracked the intentions and actions of customers around the world for the past decade, digital technologies have continued to shape customer behavior and needs to the point at which all customers have become digital customers -albeit ones who move at different speeds. Yet it also shows that businesses have struggled to keep pace with these changes. So much so that customers still encounter confusing websites, staggering call wait times, and difficulty solving their problems no matter which channel they use. It all adds up to increased customer switching, and revenue opportunities for the competition.
What can be done to capture a greater share of that opportunity for your business? It starts by becoming a “multi-speed customer business.” Such businesses have moved beyond the one-sized-fits-all customer approach. They avoid incremental improvements in favor of more impactful “do-it differently” programs that are guided by their test and learn expertise. And, most importantly, they master an integrated approach to both analog and digital channels that match the speed and preferences of multiple customer segments. By providing interaction capabilities that appeal to traditional as well as digital-saavy customers, these businesses drive customer retention and attract new customers who are leaving slow-footed competitors.
The Emergence and Evolution of The Non-Stop Customer
Research shows dramatic changes during the past 10 years in how customers learn about businesses and brands, purchase products and services, and access customer service and support. Consumers now:
Use more digital channels than ever: Five years ago 78 percent of customers used at least one online channel when prospecting. Today 88 percent do – and four in 10 want even more digital interaction than what businesses are providing.
Look for more options and more businesses to serve them: Two-thirds said the number of businesses or brands they consider for purchases has increased significantly compared with 10 years ago.
Do greater “due diligence” before buying – the first time and the next time: Compared with 10 years ago, seven in 10 agreed they make much more informed buying decisions.
Listen more to what others say – a whole new definition of “word of mouth” compared with 10 years ago. Just over half rely much more on other people’s reviews and experiences to inform their buying decisions.
Seek quicker resolution and fewer hassles - and if businesses don’t move faster, the customer will move on. Nearly two-thirds said they use online channels across sales, marketing and service because of their speed and convenience, while just over half said they have become more impatient and they want their buying decision process to be fast with minimal effort.
The rise of digital has given customers more and more options for interacting with businesses they patronize. As a result, businesses must be quick to recognize when and how these channels fit customer preferences in developing or mature markets and then change their operations as needed to avoid falling short of consumers’ expectations, and consequently missing out on substantial revenue growth opportunities.
In next week’s column I’ll provide eight trends highlighted that businesses struggle to keep pace with customers and actions that can be taken to win and keep customers.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Caymanian-owned hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm. Visit Caymera at www.caymeragroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.