The digital era has and will continue to change social trends, which in turn directly affects consumer behaviour and demands. The change in consumer behaviour can be hard to understand or even recognise, but brands today need to realise that it is happening and they need to change and adapt their customer service accordingly. The digital consumer has the potential to unsettle current competition as well as new players in any industry.
Changing consumer behaviours can be daunting for brands and can present certain challenges such as an increase in negative publicity. This said, there are also certain constructive opportunities that come with the risks, like the chance to engage with customers who are looking at the overall brand value of the product or service as opposed to just the price tag.
Customers are no longer comparing brands with their direct competitors, but rather all brands they consume, no matter the industry or product. They are comparing not only the product but a myriad of brand elements such as service, quality, and overall customer satisfaction to name a few. Brands should no longer be focusing on their direct competitors, but instead focusing on how they can be better than the best brands their consumers are using. Modern day consumers are comparing apples with oranges. Fashion brands are now being put up against supermarket chains and insurance companies; if one offers fantastic service, the benchmark it set for the others to meet those standards.
It’s now so much easier for customers to complain about bad service, meaning it’s much harder for brands to satisfy customers’ wants and needs. Customers place a large emphasis on the ease of service, and if this isn’t met they will take to digital media to complain and let others know of their misfortunes. Brands need to accept the fact that customers are less tolerant than they used to be, and they need to act accordingly in order to retain their customer base.
Between social media and customer forums, consumers have the ability to both build and destroy brands. Word of mouth was, and still is, king. Customers have always been led by the opinions of friends and family, but nowadays this is corroborated by social media likes and testimonials. Brand reputations can stand or fall over night, all based on the communication between consumers.
Customers want value for money and will no longer just accept cheap products and services. Likewise, customers won’t accept overpricing or poor standards of customer service. Brands need to understand that today’s customers are open to brand switching and do not have the same level of loyalty as they once did. Customers demand superiority and are happy to pay for it.
Consumers no longer trust traditional information channels as they once did, and so consumer opinion and relationships are formed on other, digital based, channels. This has meant a complete shift for brands to jump into digital and embrace conversation with consumers, which was previously reserved for personal comment and opinions. It’s difficult for some brands to keep up with both traditional and digital development, but it’s vital that they do in order to continue successful conversation and promotion with their customer base.
The digital revolution has provided customers with a far greater knowledge of products and services, meaning that brands no longer decide what information is handed to consumers regarding product knowledge. Consumers are able to access information and opinions within seconds, providing them with enough facts to make informed purchase decisions.
Brands don’t decide which communication methods are best used by consumers. They themselves decide this, based on which channels are used by their friends, family, and influencers alike. Brands need to choose channels based on whether it’ll be suitable for the type of interaction they’re looking for, otherwise the exposure of the interaction to the consumer won’t be profitable.
A direct and focused approach to customer service is imperative for brands to meet the heightened expectations of service, and to accommodate changing consumer behaviour. This approach will give brands the opportunity to mine insight and intelligence to progressively improve their relationships with consumers.
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