In grade school these days, Valentine’s Day card distribution is an egalitarian exercise. Children who wish to hand them out are usually asked to give one to every classmate. To spare hurt feelings, no one is left out. A one-size-fits-all approach, while sound policy for the classroom, is not conducive for brands trying to establish a long-lasting relationship with a customer. New research from Dynata on customer loyalty, in a survey commissioned by Redpoint, reveals that across-the-board discounts are far less important to consumers than a brand that demonstrates a personal understanding. A discount available to everyone, much like an interchangeable Valentine’s card, does not make the heart aflutter.
In the survey, 74 percent of consumers said that feeling understood and truly valued is more important than discounts and loyalty points. Being “understood” by a brand was defined as the brand recognizing a customer as unique, knowing preferences and behaviors on an individual level vs. just another customer. Being “valued” was defined as a customer knowing that their worth to a brand is more than transactional.
Customer Experience X’s + O’s
Consumers were also clear that they are willing to reward brands that make an effort to develop a personal understanding. In the survey, 64 percent of respondents said that they would rather purchase a product from a brand that knows them. Conversely, 39 percent of consumers claimed that they have stopped shopping with a brand after just one bad personal experience.
The bar for excellence, it appears, is high. Always-on consumers are now accustomed to omnichannel customer journeys consisting of a combination of digital and offline channels, and they clearly will not tolerate an inconsistent brand experiences. Diving deeper on what it means to be understood, more than half of consumers surveyed (52 percent) said that it is when a brand provides relevant product and/or service recommendations, with 44 percent claiming that it means a seamless navigation of in-store and online channels.
Consumers increasingly demand that brands deliver a real-time omnichannel customer experience that matches the cadence of how they engage. One expectation, for example, is for a call center agent to possess an in-depth understanding of the customer so that issues are resolved to a customer’s satisfaction without burdening the customer with endless questions or explanations. In addition to up-to-date transactions, a call center agent might possess the customer’s search history, social footprint, household status and other identity graph components.
A key distinction between a multichannel experience and an omnichannel experience that drives revenue growth is that the latter entails an unbroken, consistent understanding at every touchpoint – no exceptions. An understanding derived from linking two or three channels will have gaps akin to blind spots in how a customer navigates a journey. Those gaps translate to a brand unable to provide a customer with a hyper-relevant experience at every touchpoint. At best, a brand compensates by delivering a static message or universal discount or offer, which as the survey makes clear is met with ambivalence. Worse, though, is a brand makes a false assumption that is based on an incomplete, outdated view of the customer, thus introducing friction into the customer journey.
The traditional example is when a brand makes an offer for a recently purchased product, but common CX failures also include missed upsell or cross-sell opportunities. Think about a customer who buys a product online and picks it up in-store. An omnichannel customer experience may consist of a brand offering a discount on the perfect complementary item as the customer arrives to pick up the item, using SMS as the delivery mechanism because that is how the customer asked to receive notifications. According to the survey, 34% of consumers said they are more loyal to brands that offer multiple ways to interact with them and shop – with buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) listed as one of the favored options. Brands that organize campaigns around a channel, or do not link every channel, cannot provide this type of experience that demonstrates the personal understanding customers covet.
A Hallmark of a Good Relationship: Transparency
The survey also explores consumer sentiment around data privacy. Nearly half (47%) of consumers said that they feel disrespected when brands collect their personal data without asking, or fail to provide them with an opportunity to easily opt-in or opt-out. And 42 percent feel disrespected when brands are not transparent about how they will use their personal data.
All consumers are asking for is something in return. We’ve written at length about the consumer data value exchange, where consumers make clear that they are willing to provide personal data – as long as brands use it to create more personalized experiences. In the 2021 Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint, two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers surveyed said that they will give trusted brands more information about themselves if it is used to create a more valuable customer experience.
The key to building customer loyalty is to honor these preferences, establishing an unshakeable trust that you, the brand, always have the customer’s back. Brands demonstrate the value and personal understanding with every personalized experience, which in turn results in deeper loyalties and more shared data, which leads to even more personalized experience in the cadence of an omnichannel customer journey. The cycle continues, with the end result a long-lasting, trusting relationship that outshines all competing brands with their uninspired, rudimentary messages, content and offers.