Today’s Consumers Expect Personalization: Here’s What This Means for Your Brand
For the past four years, the Gladly team has released its annual Customer Expectations Report to better understand today’s customers — e.g., the types of experiences they want and expect from the brands they love.
But as we all know, the world is a very different place today, one where we talk about social distancing and flattening the curve. As a result, we’ve seen e-commerce become the main way consumers engage with the companies and brands they love.
Customer expectations for brands continue to evolve. Now more than ever, they’re finding comfort in personalized service and the connection, speed and ease it brings. The survey dives into customers’ current expectations, and shows how brands can deliver more personalized service and drive revenue.
Consumers Expect Lifelong Conversations
Think about how we all communicate with friends and family — we might start on text, jump on the phone, and follow up with an email. Consumers want to seamlessly move between these same channels when communicating with brands they love. Therefore, the more options your brand provides for getting in touch, the better.
Another big takeaway: customers want to be known by the brands they love. In fact, 86 percent of people said they expect conversations with customer service agents to seamlessly move with them, no matter which channel they’re in. Brands need to support one seamless, lifelong conversation across channels to deliver the same great experience with every interaction.
Craft retailer JOANN's customer service strategy is a great example of why maintaining a seamless, lifelong conversation with each customer drives loyalty. When the company was first founded, it focused on the channels that mattered most at the time: mail and the phone. But recently, JOANN recognized the shift to digital channels and have tailored the customer experience to fit current expectations, adding channels like SMS, chat and self-service. This has allowed JOANN to build loyalty with existing customers while engaging an entirely new generation of crafters.
Consumers Value Empowered Problem Solvers
At a time when most people can’t be face-to-face with store associates, consumers value agents that are empowered problem solvers. We found that nearly half of respondents have purchased a product from a brand based on a customer service agent’s recommendation. And 84 percent go out of their way to spend more money with a brand that provides great experiences. With the right information and context, agents have the power to truly delight customers and make impactful suggestions.
Direct-to-consumer swimwear brand Andie has seen firsthand how personalized service can drive revenue and brand love. One of my favorite stories from Andie’s contact center is about the return of one swimsuit — and how it led to the purchase of six more. While helping a customer process a return, one Andie agent took the time to understand the customer’s preferences and lifestyle. The agent made an informed product recommendation. The recommendation ultimately worked for the customer, who has since placed multiple orders with the brand and become a loyal Andie advocate.
At the end of the day, consumers want to be known by the brands they love. The retail brands that deliver on this now will be in a better position to connect with customers in this new world. By empowering agents with critical information — from a customer’s name to their order history to their product preferences — to create a comprehensive view of the customer in multiple service channels, brands have the ability to develop lifelong customer relationships that will last into the next era of retail.
Joseph Ansanelli is CEO of Gladly, a customer service platform built for all channels, from voice to messaging.