5 Trends for Improving Customers’ Post-Purchase Experiences
In this digital age, retailers are able to communicate with customers in a multitude of ways and a wide variety of places. As new opportunities arise, it becomes even more crucial for retailers to be strategic about which channels and tactics they decide to use. Companies need to consider where, when, why and how their customers really want to be talked to, or they risk frustrating those customers and potentially losing out on repeat business.
A recent Narvar consumer report revealed some key trends in how consumers view retail communications. Here are five of those trends that forward-thinking retailers should be paying attention to:
Order Updates Are More Important Than Promotions
Customers are more interested in receiving information about existing orders than they are in marketing messages, including promotions or product recommendations. Ninety-nine percent of consumers say updates pertaining to order tracking information are either important or very important, while only 23 percent say that’s true of product recommendations. Customers also want messages about customer service issues (91 percent say these are important or very important). Essentially, retailers should be thinking about how to communicate effectively with customers post-purchase, not just before they’ve decided to buy. In addition, the item’s value should also dictate the frequency of your messaging, as 84 percent of consumers say that more post-purchase communication is critical if a purchase is expensive.
Customers Want to Know What’s Going On … Even if it's Bad News
After making a purchase, customers simply want you to keep them in the loop about where their orders are. By providing proactive information every step of the way, you give your customers peace of mind and foster trust. Although counterintuitive, a staggering 98 percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that can notify them immediately if something goes wrong, such as if a package is undeliverable, damaged or delayed.
Email is Still King, But Other Channels Are Picking Up Speed
No matter the content, email is by far the most popular channel for receiving messages from retailers. Ninety-three percent of consumers say they like email because it’s easier to refer back to later. However, 38 percent of consumers want to hear from retailers in multiple ways, and I only expect that number will continue to rise. Forty-three percent of consumers ages 21-29 prefer to receive messages from retailers via text, and 33 percent want them via push notifications. Keep in mind, too, that as consumers begin to frequent more communication channels like messenger apps, they’ll expect helpful, relevant information to reach them through those channels as well. To avoid being intrusive, however, retailers should always ask permission before reaching out to customers through any new channels.
Younger Shoppers Prefer to Solve Problems Themselves
Many shoppers (especially younger ones) are taking matters into their own hands when they encounter a problem or have a simple question for a retailer. Eighty-eight percent of millennials only want to escalate matters to a customer service rep if they can’t figure out how to solve the issue on their own first. This opens the door for retailers to start using chatbots and other artificial intelligence-powered channels to help out with basic customer inquiries, saving the more valuable human touch for more complicated or pressing matters. While bots aren’t currently in demand (only 2 percent of consumers prefer to communicate through a bot), 38 percent of consumers can’t tell the difference between a bot and a human when the interaction is in a chat support context. A well-programmed bot is a great customer service tool that can save you resources while providing value to your customers.
Voice-Activated Commerce is Closer Than You Think
With the ever-rising popularity of virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, it only makes sense that retailers should have voice-activated shopping on their radars. This emerging channel shows no signs of slowing down. While just 29 percent of consumers currently use a voice-activated device to shop online, another 41 percent say they plan to use one in the future. That’s 70 percent of American consumers who will be shopping via voice. Retailers need to prepare for that behavioral shift sooner than you might think.
In an experience-driven economy, good communication is crucial for building lasting customer relationships. Retailers that want to succeed as consumer preferences continue to evolve must prepare to interact via new channels such as chatbots and voice-activated devices while maintaining email, text and other legacy channels. By offering customers the information and resources they need, through the channels they prefer, retailers will be well equipped to establish lasting, trusting relationships with their customers.
Amit Sharma is the CEO of Narvar, a company that helps retailers deliver premium post-purchase experiences.
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