Customer experience (CX) is quickly becoming the key differentiator for brands looking to stand out in an increasingly noisy marketplace; especially in our current environment, as brands are sharing their response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and digital communications are more critical than ever. But while 71% of people agree that personalized digital experiences are important to them, most (74%) also value privacy over experience. This is according to a recent consumer study that polled 5,000 global consumers on issues related to privacy concerns, brand trust, customer experience expectations, and emerging channels. What’s clear from the data is that consumers have a willingness to provide personal details, but they don’t give much lenience to a brand if they misuse information or abuse trust.
Privacy & CX
What we’re seeing as marketers today is that privacy and CX are dictating the future of how consumers behave. With data breaches seemingly happening daily – from games to health to social media – and privacy-based regulations still in their infancy, individuals are taking it upon themselves to protect their identities and data by adjusting their behaviors based on how much (or how little) they entrust to brands.
Any consumer-provided data is meant to improve their experiences – nothing more, nothing less. This creates new challenges for brands, however, as consumers are sparingly offering personal data that can be used to tailor their CX. Yet, their expectations for unique and seamless omnichannel CX continues to rise. Brands are under pressure to deliver value and experience, all the while streamlining data practices, remaining transparent with customers on how their data is being tracked and used, and doing away with asking customers for information they have no intention of using.
The balancing act this requires for marketers can be daunting.
There’s good news, too, as the data shows consumers are generally accepting of the data value exchange: 64% are aware their online activity is being tracked and half of those surveyed (51%) are willing to share some personal details if that means getting a more personalized experience.
Opportunities for Marketers
And there are plenty of opportunities for brands to deepen relationships and better understand their customers through the data they provide. Some of those opportunities come in the form of customer service, others in smart segmentation, and others by matching consumers’ embrace of emerging channels like voice-activated marketing. A few examples:
- 68% of GenZ and 70% of GenY prefer purely digital experiences – doing both research and shopping for big-ticket items mostly online – so brands that put an emphasis on creating seamless online experiences for this segment will reap long-term benefits by not promoting face-to-face engagement.
- Effective customer service can also make a huge impact on consumers: 54% of people will only tolerate 2-3 negative experiences before they abandon a brand altogether; 1 in 5 people (22%) will abandon a brand after only 1 bad experience. Customer service response and resolution times are also tightening: 97% of people expect a brand to respond within 24 hours of flagging an issue. Aggravating customer service encounters are pushing customers away in droves, so the onus is on brands to do three things well: 1) properly educate their human channel, 2) use data to empower customer intelligence, 3) understand the importance of universal customer profiles.
- Emerging technologies like voice-activated marketing via devices like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home/Nest are not only growing in popularity with consumers (nearly half of people polled – 45% – use voice-enabled assistants) but brand marketers are well, who are capitalizing on new opportunities to meet consumers where they are. 47% of consumers find voice-powered ad-targeting helpful when they’re served up ads based on what they’ve asked their digital assistants.
- Social media isn’t a dead end: while the jury’s still out on the impact of social media influencers, people are spending money via social content and ads. Roughly one-third (34%) of people can’t tell if a post is a paid ad; a nearly equal amount of people (36%) hate when people promote things on social media; 7% have never even heard of a social media influencer before. However, brands are investing in social in other forms, including promoted content and ads, and that is paying off: 41% of people polled said at least one purchasing decision within the last six months had been influenced by social media ads.
Every facet of a customer’s experience is either driving loyalty or driving them away – no brand can afford to have amazing products or services without the accompanying excellence in customer service, omnichannel approaches, or brand communication. Brands that can prioritize delivering experiences that are consistent and driven by data-powered personal preferences will be the brands that will most successfully stand out.