Marketers are so focused on providing personalization and trying to make the customer experience just right that they may be ignoring the very people they want to please.
A new customer experience trends report and infographic released by InMoment reveals that while customers do appreciate the personalized touches that brands create for them, they are much more interested in providing value back to the company.
“Consumers really do care about the brands they interact with,” saidJohn Sperry, CEO and Founder of InMoment. “It’s a choice they make, and they want to make it a good choice. Not just, 'Did I get the value?' but, 'I want the company to be able to produce value, as well.'”
Sperry’s colleague, Lisa Davis, InMoment’s vice president of communications, agreed.
“Brands are trying to rush to create personalized experiences by collecting data, and doing targeted marketing,” she said. “While I think consumers appreciate that to a degree, they’re pretty savvy. Instead of personalized experience, they want to have a reciprocal experience.”
Sperry and Davis shared with CMSWire other highlights from the study, and their recommendations for how brands can get closer to their customers.
1. Shorter Surveys, More Listening
According to the study, consumers ranked “shorter surveys, more listening” as their number one customer experience trend for 2015.
“If I ask you a question, it’s important to me, but if I listen, it’s important to you,” said Sperry. “Brands want to know about customers, but they use the wrong tactics.”
Rather than bombard your customers with lengthy surveys, Sperry advocates asking customers to share their stories. “Spend your time listening instead of surveying,” he said. “If we just listen, we’ll get what we want, and consumers will feel enlightened – they’ll want to tell their story.”
Davis added that it’s important for companies to close the loop when receiving feedback from customers. “It’s not just listening every quarter or every year, but all the time,” she said. “Companies need to tell the customers what they’re doing, as well as report outcomes.”
2. More Reliable Online Reviews
According to the report, while consumers named reliable online reviews as their second highest customer experience trend, brands ranked them at the bottom of the list.
Sperry shed some light on the disparity. “This is a transitional state we’re in right now,” he said. “There are those brands that have truly embraced being transparent, whereas five years ago, brands were afraid to publish their reviews.”
He added that today’s consumers expect that transparency, and as a result, brands need to be more open to giving it to them. (Transparency ranked number 3 with customers, and number 5 with brands, according to the survey.)
Davis noted that companies are missing a huge chance to connect with customers if they don’t participate in and support online reviews.
“Some brands don’t consider online reviews a part of the customer experience,” she said. “But customers do. It’s critical that brands understand that this is a place where customers are sharing their experiences.”
3. Stronger Relationships
While customers ranked relationships toward the bottom of the list, Sperry said successful companies understand how to act human. “Businesses by themselves don’t think, don’t feel, don’t breathe,” he said. “You have to breathe humanity back into them so they do listen, actively respond and change.
“It’s a relationship, not a transaction. If brands take the opportunity to create and maintain relationships, the business outcome will be really interesting and positive.”