Almost 90% of customers say the availability of a brand through their preferred communications channel will impact their customer loyalty.
Research by customer engagement firm Interactive Intelligence found that 87% of consumers claim their brand loyalty is affected by whether or not a brand will respond via their preferred social media or communications channel, and 79% say they will use a different retailer if they receive a slow response from customer service.
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The increasing availability of consumer technology has shifted the power back into the consumer’s hands in the retail space.
Dave Paulding, regional director for Interactive Intelligence, said: “Having the data to know, understand and compare customer details is imperative to success. Every brand has data, but not every brand uses it effectively. Retailers can benefit from technology such as cloud-based solutions that can far more effectively handle big data analysis across all interaction types.”
The increase in social media use has fuelled consumers’ ability to choose between particular retailers, and, according to the research, 54% of consumers will give negative feedback about a retailer online if they are not satisfied with its service.
The research also found consumers have different expectations of the various channels for interaction offered by retailers, with 47% expecting an immediate reply from web chat enquiries and 77% expecting a reply via social media within half an hour.
More than 90% of shoppers say they would be more satisfied with a brand if they received a reply within an acceptable timeframe.
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David Atherton, director of customer experience at AO.com, said that once his firm realised the importance of speedy customer response, it deployed machine learning technology in its call centre which pre-empts the reason a consumer is calling and directs them accordingly.
“For example, when a new order has been placed, we know the person calling probably wants to find out about their delivery time,” he said. “We provide the answer automatically as soon as the call comes through, which has resulted in a large decrease in call traffic to agents. We also know a customer’s order history, previous conversations with agents, ratings for our site and any past issues.”
Customer data has a big part to play in good customer service, because many consumers now expect a personalised experience when interacting with a brand.
But many retailers are still struggling with legacy systems, which make it hard to adopt new technology and can render the data they already have inaccessible.