Understanding the ‘social shopper’ of the future is critical to driving growth and brand loyalty today.
According to the Institute of Customer Service Support[i], “the UK is shifting from a transactional economy to a relationship economy”. Customers today demand a far higher level of interaction with the organisations they are purchasing their products and services from. They want a proper two-way dialogue and they are beginning to use – and indeed expect to use – a mixture of new and existing communication channels, from traditional telephone conversations to instant messaging and webchat, through to the latest social media networking sites.
However, many businesses are struggling to keep pace with rapid changes in customer engagement, a reality underlined by the drop in customer satisfaction ratings, now at their lowest since 2010. Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, the younger generation are the least satisfied because they are the ones most likely to turn to social media when recommending a brand or making a complaint.
The opportunities to drive growth and brand loyalty are huge for those organisations savvy enough to understand the psyche of tomorrow’s ‘social shopper’. Let’s take a look at the retail sector. To kick-start the journey to social shopping success, here are the top characteristics to look out for and how to cater for them.
- Online Research
In days gone by, customers simply visited their favourite store on the high street to pick up their purchases. The Internet has completely transformed the way people shop. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, consumers can literally shop around all over the world without leaving the comfort of their homes and definitely before parting with their hard-earned cash.
- The experience of others really matters
Shoppers are keen to check out other people’s experiences of products, services and even places before making an important purchasing decision. The rising popularity of sites such as TripAdvisor and CompareTheMarket.com are classic examples of this and highlight the powerful influence online user experiences have on consumer buying behaviours. Organisations must actively promote the positive experiences of customers using their products and services and be prepared to encourage customers to share their experiences in an open, interactive forum.
- Manage social media and complaints effectively
Research from leading CRM experts Salesforce.com reveals that an alarming 70% of companies ignore customer complaints on Twitter and only 23% provide customer service on Facebook. Yet customers who engage with companies on social media spend 20%-40% more money than those who don’t. Companies should develop high levels of ‘social listening’ across their organisation. The latest cloud-based multi-channel contact centres integrate seamlessly with innovative speech analytics technology to monitor, analyse and search 100% of recorded customer calls in real-time, helping them to glean valuable intelligence from thousands, even millions, of customers quickly and so respond efficiently to dissatisfied customers.
- The importance of self-service
Customers expect round-the-clock service without having to speak to anyone. Helping customers to help themselves is a fundamental step forward: be sure to post a clear set of FAQs that support the shopping experience from end-to-end. Amazon is probably the trailblazer in how to create the perfect social shopper experience – take notes!
- Omni-channel is the way to go
Connected consumers are driving a revolution in retailing. They are using multiple sources of product information when shopping, including in-store displays, retailer websites, online review sites, online marketplaces and social media. According to a recent research report by eBay entitled “The Omni-Channel Opportunity” and published in The Guardian, about one-third of UK and German consumers used multiple channels during a recent purchase. By engaging across different channels, consumers can research and shop at their convenience, anytime and anywhere.
- Never underestimate the value of a slick contact centre operation
Despite the demand for self-service, there will always be customers who prefer the human touch when making their purchases and asking questions about their ‘click and collect’ deliveries. Combining the latest cloud-based contact centre technology with agents who understand the company’s products and the dynamics of a multi-channel environment will go a long way towards keeping today’s and tomorrow’s social shoppers happy.
[i] https://contact-centres.com/customer-service-satisfaction-dropped-lowest-level-since-2010/ – UKCSI (UK Customer Satisfaction Index) January 2015