We live in an “always-on” world: always online, always interacting, always within arm’s reach of our devices. This is, after all, the digital age, where 25% of smartphone owners aged 18-44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them.
However brands should not fool themselves about this always-on culture: it’s easy to get trapped in a frame of mind where customer interactions only happen online. In fact, research has shown that what customers really value from an online retailer is the human touch.
It’s no revelation that companies need to convey a consistent brand message at all times, but if online retailers really want to stand out, they need to offer more than a slick website and engaging Twitter feed. In fact, 64% of people get frustrated when they are only able to interact with a company online.
The Buying Process
The buying process has never been easier for consumers – over time brands have come to understand that the different routes to purchase are down to simple science. However shopping carts are still being left empty, and according to Deloitte Digital, this is because retailers fail to leverage the potential, or are not meeting the digital expectations, of their customers.
Deloitte’s research suggests that digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in the retail stores, which is approximately $1.1 trillion in total. This illustrates how vital it is for brands to be aware of the online experience’s impact on offline sales. Although the customer and their device may be inseparable when it comes to digital interactions, people still like to have the option to go offline and speak to an operator before purchasing.
The Human Touch
A key factor brands have started to neglect in the digital world is that even though consumers like to browse for products online, people often still want to speak with a real person before making a purchase. A recent whitepaper from ResponseTap, a call-tracking software company, polled 4,000 consumers and found that despite living in an always-on world, human interaction is still highly valued by the modern customer. This goes beyond high value purchases of products such as cars, mortgages and holidays; the human voice is important across all purchases regardless of size.
The research found that 42% of US consumers are far more likely to make a purchase after speaking to someone. In addition, 58% of people value speaking to one person, hate being passed from pillar to post and 57% would rather speak to someone local rather than in another country. It also shows that if people receive great customer service, they are likely to share their positive experience through word of mouth.
These findings support the notion that the human voice offers a vital element in constructing brand identity, as a reassuring voice helps to develop a bond of loyalty between a business and the customer. Life is about human interactions, and the business that masters this today wins.
The Seamless Brand Experience
In the digital age, with sophisticated online marketing and analytics tools available, not only is growth hacking achievable for all, a clear ROI can now be calculated for all online sales and marketing spend. But as it stands, too many marketers are using this online data simply for targeting personalized offers, rather than improving the overall customer experience.
In order to fulfil the brand promise when the customer rings, CRM and contact centers need to work together to ensure they deliver the best customer experience, which will attract new customers and retain existing ones. Brands now have the resources to build a complete view of the customer; through call tracking they can offer the caller the information they want when they want it, build brand equity with the consumer, and increase sales conversion rates.
To do this brands need to present themselves as one body – at all times ‘brand-on’ – so that voice (the contact center) and message (website/branding) match up. This means no more ‘press 1 for… press 2 for…’ as we start to understand all the parts of the business that impact the consumers’ online journey.
The ultimate seamless experience occurs when a customer who is browsing is able to pick up the phone and instantly be rerouted to an agent who understands their specific needs. After speaking to this agent, the customer can make a purchase through them with confidence.