According to KPMG last week, customer experience scores are in decline. Most brands across sectors have reported a YOY decrease. Building customer loyalty has never been as tough.
Also, last week, I noticed an article in The Grocer about Booths, a supermarket chain in the North of England, who have made the decision to remove all self-checkouts and put colleagues back on tills in all but two of its stores.
The reason…. it’s what customers want.
This got me thinking on a wider level about the pressure on brands to deliver impactful and positive experiences that lead to growth business outcomes within the current economic constraints.
If we look at the last few years, most brands have gone through at least some level of digital transformation – some more than others. The pandemic accelerated the role of technology in the way customers interact with brands, whilst the lockdowns changed the way organisations operated, and many brands had to find a way to cut costs – and quickly.
Since then, the economic challenges through the cost-of-living crisis, together with the acceleration of new technologies and AI, have done nothing to diminish further digital transformation for many brands. With this, customer expectations have only increased.
But advanced technologies do not always translate into better customer experiences. For example, call waiting times in contact centres have continued to increase despite significant investment.
So that leads to the question – in this context, how can brands build meaningful experiences and drive attitudinal and emotional loyalty from customers?
The answer – getting the balance right between efficiency through technology and building profitable relationships with a human touch.
Most brands position themselves as trusted, supportive and value-driven. All human characteristics. Technology can make experiences easy and quick for customers, which will ensure brands stay within customers’ repertoire choices. But brands who truly build ‘human’ engagement with customers will drive revenue and market share growth. R&D from Savanta clearly points towards this – building customer closeness works hardest to drive revenue per customer – and different actions will be needed to get customers to spend more, rather than simply remain as potential buyers.
I can see more and more brands facing this challenge of managing technology efficiency versus meaningful human interaction in driving better experiences and profitable customer relationships. Those that do this successfully will be in the best place to both manage operational cost, but still connect in emotional and human ways with customers to drive long-term revenue growth.
Well done to Booths for taking the brave step to put human interaction before cost management. It remains to see how – and if – others follow.
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