New research has revealed the extent to which the pandemic has changed customers’ expectations of brands, and the increasingly important role of a streamlined digital experience post-COVID.
The new data – from a survey of 2,000 UK respondents undertaken by OpenText – reveals that 62% of UK consumers are more likely to buy again from brands which treat them like an individual, rather than the same as any other customer. This demand for brands to engage with customers as an individual is mirrored across Europe – in Italy (70%), Spain (63%), France (59%) and Germany (55%).
Four out of ten (43%) UK consumers only buy from brands that make them feel they understand their preferences, such as communicating with them through their favourite channels or providing tailored deals.
Customer Experience is King
More than half (56%) of UK consumers would be put off buying again from a brand due to a bad experience. In fact, six out of ten (60%) do not believe there is such thing as a ‘customer for life’ anymore in 2021, suggesting that brands cannot rely on customer loyalty stretching far enough to recover from bad experiences.
Creating a frictionless experience for customers is key to providing a good experience. When buying products or services online, nearly three out of four (72%) UK consumers say that an easy search is very important to them. Furthermore, half (48%) prefer to shop with brands that auto-fill and remember their details for next time. There is, however, pressure on brands to store that data correctly: half (54%) would even be willing to pay more to do business with a brand that is committed to protecting their personal data.
“The COVID-19 crisis has been a dramatic catalyst for digital acceleration across all sectors, forcing businesses to change how they communicate with customers,” said Lou Blatt, Senior Vice President and CMO at OpenText. “As a result, customer expectations have also shifted. They now expect more from brands – more communication channels, more personalisation and, above all, a more continuous and connected digital experience. The ability to deliver rich, ultra-personalised communications at scale, across all touch points and channels, is now mission-critical for acquiring, developing and retaining customers.”
The importance of digital in a post-COVID world
For 54% of UK consumers, the pandemic has changed their expectations of what a brand’s digital offering should be. One fifth (19%) won’t use brands if their experience isn’t excellent when buying online.
Nearly half (46%) are now more comfortable with digital only businesses as a result of the pandemic. For more than 4 in 10 (43%) UK consumers, a personalised digital experience is now vital to them if they are to come back to a brand time and time again.
The research also reveals consumer perspectives on which organisations have risen to the challenge of providing an optimal experience during the turbulence of the last year. Four in 10 (40%) say bigger established brands have been able to offer a smoother digital experience than smaller ones during the pandemic.
“Creating a positive customer experience is all about removing friction and increasing relevance: the easier something is to do and the more relevant it is to each customer, the better the experience,” said Guy Hellier. Vice President, Product Management at OpenText. “Today, customers expect their journey, from researching products to tracking orders, to transition seamlessly from one digital platform to another while retaining a consistent personalised feel – delivered across any device, at any time. For brands, this means investing in a digital experience platform which enables them to integrate data, information, and assets seamlessly across different environments. Without this in place, brands will struggle to create and deliver the cohesive and personalised experiences needed to win and retain customers.”