Four in five consumers do not feel understood as an individual by brands, research by IBM and Econsultancy shows. The results highlight a great perception gap between brands and consumers when it comes to communications, online experiences and conflict resolutions. According to the researchers, brands should invest in delivering the right experience for the right person at also the right time.
According to recently released research by IBM, there is a massive perception gap between how well brands think they are marketing and the actual customer’s experience. To come to these conclusions, Econsultancy conducted two studies in the US: the first with marketing professionals from 276 consumer companies and the second with 1,135 consumers.
The study shows that almost 90% of marketers agree that personalising the customer experience is critical to their success, with eight out of ten (81%) companies saying to have a holistic view of their customers as individuals. This is in sharp contrast with the consumers’ perception, of whom 80% feel misunderstood by brands as an individual, with 63% not feeling understood by their favourite retailer.
One of the areas of divergence is ‘communications’. Almost half (47%) of brands say they have a ‘strong capability’ for provision of relevant communications, while almost two-thirds (65%) of consumers say the communications of their favourite brand are irrelevant.
According to IBM, the lack of understanding and relevancy in communications may explain why many shoppers leave a brand’s website without completing their purchase, with the shopping cart abandonment rate as high as 73.7% in March 2015.
Of the brands, 75% strongly believes in its ability to deliver superior experiences offline, 69% online, and 57% on mobile devices. Again, this differs from consumers, with 51% of consumers who switched service providers in in the last 12 months, citing bad online experiences as the main reason for their leaving.
On the issue of conflict resolution, brands and consumers’ perceptions are the widest apart, with almost 90% of brands saying they are satisfied with their ability to resolve conflicts and almost 70% of consumers saying the opposite. Only 28% of consumers who had a customer service issue in the past 12 months, say the company’s method of resolving the issue was ‘very effective’.
The research concludes that companies that are able to successfully deliver the right customer experience pave the way for a surge in brand advocacy and customer trust. “The fundamental thinking behind digital marketing has shifted. The goal of providing the right message to the right person at the right time is now just a part of the larger puzzle. The real challenge is providing the right experience for the right person at a time that’s right for them,” explains Stefan Tornquist, Vice President Research for the Americas at Econsultancy. “At the centre of it all is the marriage of marketing and technology and a commitment to innovation that’s driven by individual customer needs.”
Deepak Advani, General Manager at IBM Commerce, adds: “The customer is in control but this is not the threat many marketers perceive it to be. It’s an opportunity to engage and serve the customer’s needs like never before. By increasing investments in marketing innovations, teams can examine consumers at unimaginable depths including specific behaviour patterns from one channel to the next. With this level of insight brands can become of customer’s trusted partner rather than an unwanted intrusion.”