Brand loyalty is certainly an important element of your marketing strategy, but new research shows that it’s trumped by experience. inContact, a provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, has released findings of a recent Harris Interactive Survey that examined the current state of customer service and the changing preferences of consumers.
Brand Loyalty Can't Compete with Customer Experience
What they found is that consumers are no longer making their buying decisions based on brand loyalty, but rather which companies can match their desired experience at a time of their choosing. In other words, consumers want what they want when they want it, and if your company can’t meet their needs when they’re ready to pay for it, brand loyalty isn't going to sway them.
According to the survey, more than 50 percent of U.S. adults would be at least somewhat likely to switch to another brand or company if they offered more options and channels to connect with them than they were currently using. For younger consumers, aged 18 to 44, buying from another brand based on options and experience was more significant.
Consumers have more access to information and can make more-informed decisions as a result. Whether they’re showrooming or just doing their research, customers want a tailored experience when they engage with brands, and demand more options and availability to handle these interactions when and how they see fit.
Call it consumer savviness, or wanting more bang for their buck, the reality is that companies are at risk of losing customers if they fail to accommodate customer preferences or adopt evolving channels of communication in providing service.
The Customer Experience Paradox
When asked how they wish to interact with brands, the survey showed that, overall, customers not only prefer, but expect companies to offer options for a variety of channels and devices.
- 56% of respondents indicated that they would be at least somewhat likely to switch brands based on customer service options
- 25% of U.S. adults do not feel loyalty toward any type of brand
- 68% of respondents indicated that companies without other options than the 1-800 number seem outdated
- 86% of U.S. adults expect brands to offer multiple options and flexible timing to interact with customer service
- Women are nearly ten percent less likely than men to feel loyalty toward a brand
- 70% of adults say that mobile apps are important for companies to offer
These results not only indicate a growing sentiment for more personalization and interaction among consumers, but also a customer experience paradox. It used to be that providing an optimized customer experience could build brand loyalty. But these survey results imply that’s no longer a guarantee.
One great customer experience is no longer enough. The experience needs to evolve, improve and serve to meet customer needs even after the point of purchase. Though a majority of customers still feel loyalty towards a specific brand, there is a substantial customer segment that doesn't. How you target them must be different.