Low cost and quality products may have been key to driving brand loyalty in 2019, but the pandemic has pushed safety and scheduling flexibility to the top of customers’ priorities, based on a research report from Futurum and SAS.
Based on a survey of more than 600 global consumers, executives, marketers and technology professionals last summer, SAS released Experience 2030 Pulse Report: The Acceleration of Digital Engagement, Personalization and Trust as an update to similar research it had conducted prior to COVID-19.
While 65 per cent of consumers stressed safety and 57 per cent cited the need to have deliveries scheduled within a few days time, other loyalties reflected the shift to e-commerce and some possible concerns about the experience they’re having.
For example, 56 per cent of those surveyed said their loyalty would be influenced by having more relevant suggestions for products and services to buy based on their needs, even though many sites currently have some automated ways of doing this online. And while chat tools with pre-populated answers have been lauded by vendors as a way to be more responsive, 54 per cent said having a live human — and not a bot — to talk to was a loyalty driver.
“(Automation) cannot create trust by itself. Trust in the digital age requires empathy, and that requires both data (for personalization and context) and a human element that spans technology, people and process,” the report’s authors wrote. “Not all products or services offered in the physical world can be offered in a digital or online environment, nor do all products and services used in the past necessarily have the same demand or use requirements today. The key will be to leverage technologies to create more immersive, rich and rewarding experiences for the consumer.”
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While the shift in loyalty drivers is to be expected, some of the more intriguing aspects of this 16-page report are the ways in which brands are preparing to enhance CX over the longer term.
Besides voice-based AI and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), for instance, 32 per cent of brands said they were accelerating the adoption of “holographics for customer support instruction,” something I’ve barely heard mentioned until now.
The other eyebrow-raising stats showed just how lifestyles may be evolving based on technology use. While it may be time to invest in a drone delivery service, for instance, in-car infotainment may become a bigger channel in 2021, and anything that can enhance the smart home may find a welcome market.
A lot of the trends reflected in the report play into the kinds of pain points SAS applications are designed to solve, of course, but there is some good advice about the agility and ecosystem relationships a successful CX strategy requires today.
There is also an interesting ranking of top 10 brand categories that consumers trust. Although health-care, grocery and restaurant brands ranked well, “consumer brands” (which I read as CPG in this context) were near the bottom at No. 9. Given that many consumer brands sell through a third-party channel like a mass-market retailer or grocery chain, consumer brands may have to work harder from a marketing standpoint to show how they’re keeping these newer loyalty drivers in mind.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.