4 Trends Driving Customer Experience In EMEA

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It’s no secret that mobile and Internet usage has been steadily on the rise over the past 10-plus years. And that growth has accelerated over the past few months, with many people all over the world staying at home due to the spread of COVID-19.

Indeed, research from McKinsey finds that consumers are adopting new behaviours online that could continue even after the COVID-19 shutdown dissipates. Some are turning to websites they never visited previously for the basics (14%), shopping at new grocery stores (20%), adopting curbside restaurant and store pickup (15% and 19%, respectively), and using videoconference software professionally and personally for the first time (21% and 23%, respectively).

The data that comes from these online engagements can help companies understand a broader range of customer behaviour trends that organisations can use to shape their customer experience strategies. Because at the end of the day, relevance and understanding customer preferences and behaviours is what separates the marketing leaders from the laggards.

Below, we take a look at four of the biggest consumer trends driving customer experience in the EMEA region.

Customers expect brands to represent their values

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have been increasingly choosing—and showing greater loyalty to—brands that act responsibly and align to their values and beliefs, whether social, political, environmental, or ethical.

According to an Edelman survey, two-thirds of worldwide consumers buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue,. For organizations, putting values into practice requires the right strategy—even when an organization is built around a values-based mission. For example, when London-based humanitarian organization Save the Children needed to make a stronger connection with its donors to help support its goals, it changed its focus from single, broad campaigns to a more personalized, multichannel approach to fundraising and engagement.

“Our supporters wanted different experiences, to come online, and to support our work … the more deeply they believe in the cause, the longer they’ll stay with us,” said Linda McBain, the nonprofit’s digital director. And it has worked. Save the Children has seen a 9% increase in donations on site, thanks to more personalized content.

Using customer data to offer more options for personalization

Organizations also need to drill down beyond simple demographics to understand the way consumers research, browse, and spend their money. This offers further opportunities for personalization.

For example, mobile service provider Three UK is taking a proactive approach to make its personalization ambitions—to double its customer base—a reality. Before embarking on a customer experience management (CXM) project, all visitors to the telco’s website saw the same content and offers. Now powerful data analytics are used to segment customers and let Three offer a wholly tailored experience to every user.

To accomplish this, the company started by investing in its customer care. It focused on understanding its customers as individuals and making them feel more valued across its online channels and in its communications. Previous segmentation of clients based on age, income, education—all the usual ways of dividing customers into groups—didn’t go far enough, treating them as interchangeable within that group.

Customer data is the key to creating individual customer profiles. From there, Three can offer its customers a personalized and seamless journey through its UK website, including highly relevant offers and content. In addition, geo-location data means each page can display location-relevant information and advice on networks.

This approach is paying dividends; it’s likely no coincidence that the company has the highest Net Promoter Score in the industry at +17.

Customers expect top-notch experiences

There’s no turning back: Once customers have experienced good CX, they come to expect it all the time. As brands continue to invest in high levels of CX, consumers are increasingly coming to demand and expect better experiences.

According to Adobe research with Goldsmiths University, almost two-thirds of EMEA consumers said they felt more loyal to brands that tailor experiences to their interests and preferences. The research also found 50% said they would buy from a brand they had never used before if it promised a compelling user experience.

One-way organizations are answering the call for more engaging experiences is with artificial intelligence (AI). AI-powered “magic mirrors” that let customers “try on” clothes, for example, and product recommendations based on past purchases are well-known examples in the retail space. However, other industries are putting AI to work. For example, media provider Sky uses AI-driven insights to deliver ‘hyper-focused’ experiences to its more than 25 million customers across its digital channels. Rob McLaughlin, head of digital decisioning and analytics at Sky UK, says AI gives the company an opportunity to “surprise and delight customers with recommendations that are not only relevant, but wanted.”

Sky UK also uses AI to personalize the customer experience in its contact centers. When a customer connects with the call center, the organization analyzes a variety of customer attributes, including what products customers own, where they live, where they are in the customer life cycle, and whether the previous engagement was successful. Based on this information, customers are connected with the best customer service representative to handle their issue.

“We’re actually using artificial intelligence to improve human interactions,” McLaughlin says.

The rewards for great experiences are high but getting it wrong can be costly. A report by PwC found that while consumers worldwide will pay a premium for good experiences, a third will abandon a brand after just one bad experience.

Consumers expect respect for their privacy

While consumers are demanding more personalized, focused experiences, they are also growing more savvy about what powers them: personal data. They expect brands to respect privacy and practice the highest standards of data protection.

A report by Microsoft, based on a survey of U.K. and U.S. marketers, found that privacy is a major priority for the small group of brands it identified as “high performers. ” High performers hold and use more customer data, but they are also more likely to take privacy seriously with around half moving away from using cookies and tracking users.

This group was also more likely to be transparent about how they used personal data – and had rigorous safeguards in place to protect it. The challenge to brands that want to deliver superior experiences is to find a happy medium between innovation, personalization, and trust.

Bringing it all together

People are complex, and using blunt metrics to measure them is a practice that yields dull results, not the sharp focus brands need to navigate the 21st century. Identifying and understanding what’s important to customers through data is one of the key components to delivering better experiences. This will ensure an organization is always ready to identify new trends, understand customer preferences, and offers opportunities to build loyalty.

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