Customer loyalty is changing, and your marketing plan should be too

The way customers engage with retail has shifted dramatically

The days of consumers solely going into a shop to buy products is quickly becoming a thing of the past and ecommerce is becoming the new way consumers interact with retailers. Since the mobility explosion of the past few years, bricks and mortar stores are a lot less influential than their online counterparts.

Another impact of ecommerce has been the change in consumers' habits – whether that's the way they consume, the way they purchase or the way they engage with retailers.

At Youstice, we recently conducted some research in partnership with Goldsmith's University that looked into the behaviours of the modern day consumer and just how far they can be pushed before reacting if an issue arises. Key findings from the research found that in the UK, consumers were willing to lose over £20 before complaining resulting in well over £750 million lost annually from UK consumers' back pockets.

Further insight from the findings, such as the changing relationship between retailers and consumers is perhaps more interesting. Online shopping has transformed how consumers shop and the mass of information and options available means consumers have become much more sensitive to who and where they shop.

Pre-purchase research now the norm

Lack of trust, minor fluctuations in price, customer service and even unusable websites can create barriers between a retailer and a consumer.

So what does this mean for how businesses market themselves? To answer this question it's best to examine how they are reacting to the change and what they are proactively doing to stay one step ahead of consumers. Whilst online retailing and ecommerce has made the process of shopping easier, it has also introduced new barriers.

Our research found that 60% of UK shoppers rely solely on previous customer feedback whilst a huge 90% of customers are now reviewing online communities and forums before purchasing. This figure alone highlights how important community management and transparency is for businesses.

Whilst no retailer can guarantee that they will never have issues, retailers need to be open and honest. If there is an issue, retailers need to do their upmost to get it resolved.

The research also found that nearly half of UK shoppers would think twice before hitting 'Submit' if they had previously had a bad experience. Again, you can never be certain issues won't arise but retailers need to understand that it's how they deal with the issue that will stick with consumers, not necessarily the resolution they provide.

Online community management is vital

If retailers can address an issue rather than simply ignoring it, there is a greater chance of a consumer purchasing again than if the issue is left unresolved.

Social media has also become an extremely effective tool for consumers, and companies are now paying very close attention to what consumers are posting or tweeting. Retailers have become cautious of social media because of the huge impact it can have on trust.

Customer service has been thrust into the spotlight and the repercussions of a bad experience on retailers are clear. Over 50% of the UK are immediately more wary of repeating purchases if a bad experience occurs and the knock on effect is businesses are now bringing customer services and after sales support up on their list of priorities.

So to conclude, even though it sounds easy and obvious, a business that gets its customer services right, will ultimately keep its customers happy. After all, achieving customer satisfaction through transparency, retailers will be on the road to success.

It's certainly not easy to get to the point of perfect, seamless customer service but with it now being brought back in focus, improvements are on the horizon.

  • Zbynek Loebl is the CEO and founder of customer service specialist, Youstice