Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 18, 2019
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4min939

New research shows that the public appetite for points and plastic is as popular as ever, with the majority of UK customers subscribed to at least one loyalty scheme.

According to Hawk Incentives’ The Loyalty Evolution Report which surveyed 2,500 people across the UK – a massive 82 percent of Brits are signed up to one or more programmes. Sixty-four percent are signed up to between one to five loyalty schemes, followed by six to ten (14 percent), and 11 to 20 (two percent).

The founding grocery godfathers’ of loyalty schemes still take the lion’s share of the market, with eight-out-of-ten (81 percent) consumers admitting to subscribing to a supermarket loyalty card scheme.

The UK’s burgeoning coffee shop culture is also driving consumer loyalty, enjoying 42 percent of the share of the market, with restaurants in third place with 33 percent. Least popular currently are fuel schemes (with only six percent of the population subscribing); technology schemes (eight percent); and sports retail loyalty and rewards schemes (19 percent).

The study also revealed that 62 percent consider themselves to be brand loyal. Contrary to previous studies which have painted younger shoppers as more fickle, the Hawk report reveals that Gen Z, Xennials, and Millennials say they stay faithful to the brands they like or love. Indeed 77 percent of 25-34 year olds claim to be brand loyal, along with 70 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 34-44 year-olds.

Meanwhile, 85 per cent of females are signed up to loyalty and reward schemes, compared to 76 percent of men.

Lack of interest was cited by a fifth (20 percent) of respondents as the main reason for not signing up. Seventeen percent cited a perceived lack of value. This is also a greater reason for men (21 percent versus 11 percent for females), as well as the older age group (24 percent). Older consumers aged 55-plus are failing to sign up over concerns about the use of their data, the report found.

Despite the rise of digital technologies, consumers would still prefer a physical loyalty card rather than a digital format. This is the case for both subscribers and non-subscribers.

Over half (58 percent) of subscribers and 30 percent of non-subscribers said something in their purse or wallet was preferable to a smart phone app or another digital platform. Perhaps not surprisingly, non-subscribers don’t really have a preference, but 46 percent said they would still prefer a physical card if they could choose.

Chris Ford of Hawk Incentives said: “The fact that only 15 percent of consumers don’t currently subscribe to rewards programmes shows loyalty schemes are still very much alive and kicking. However, it appears consumers’ perception of them may have shifted as people become more concerned about data in the Facebook era.

“What we do know is that brands that offer loyalty schemes which are relevant, offer choice, and are easy to access, create the best opportunity to engage an already receptive audience of active customers. Mining your data intelligently and sensitively to create targeted rewards and incentives will only make consumers more brand loyal and better brand advocates. Reassurance that their data is in safe hands is, of course, also key in the age of transparency.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 3, 2019
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2min574

Brands have been urged to pay attention to the rise in popularity of Instagram among consumers noted for being ahead of the curve when it comes to tastes in technology.

A survey was carried out at the recent MCM London Comic Con and the recently published results show that 43 percent of attendees said they would choose Instagram over other social media platforms. This was up from 28 percent who selected the photo-sharing platform as their first pick at the previous MCM London Comic Con last October.

Pop culture fans, such as these MCM London Comic Con attendees, are cited as early adopters of popular tech habits.

Facebook, meanwhile, is now the first choice for 33 percent of attendees, with twitter (16 percent) and Snapchat (just four percent) trailing behind, according to the poll of 1,167 fans carried out by marketing agency Experience12.

Chris Whittle, Founder and Managing Director at Experience12, said: “Fans who attend Comic Con are by and large early adopters when it comes their content consumption habits, which is why speaking with them on the ground at the show is always a really interesting litmus test for upcoming trends.”

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Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 28, 2019
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4min768

Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive Customer Experience improvements, according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study.

The study found that while retailers successfully answered 59 percent of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels. Retailers provided answers to 83 percent of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38 percent of tweets and 50 percent of Facebook messages. Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73 percent of emails. By 2019 this had dropped to 68 percent, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital Customer Experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012. Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink). Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on Customer Experience.

Fashion (answering 60 percent of all queries) and food and drink (59 percent) were the top sectors surveyed but still failed to respond to four-in-10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59 percent ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63 percent rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just eight percent of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74 percent believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder of Eptica, said: “The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape. Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 16, 2019
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3min649

The number of customers who place high importance on the ability to discover and purchase directly through social media platforms has risen by 38 percent in a year, new figures reveal.

The annual Shopper Experience Index, published by Bazaarvoice, involved a survey of more than 2,000 consumers across the UK, US, France and Germany. One-third of UK customers now believe the ability to discover and buy products is of critical importance to their experience of social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

This comes in the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of a shift in focus for Facebook, moving from the News Feed to encrypted, ephemeral messaging – or as he put it, “from the town square to the living room”. Meanwhile, the data has emerged as cosmetics retailer Lush announced it was to close its UK social media accounts to instead focus on channels including live chat

The new report also gathers insights from 500 of Bazaarvoice’s clients globally. Of the UK brands and retailers surveyed, 91 percent agreed that visual content makes for a more engaging shopping experience. Moreover, respondents also referenced additional benefits, such as enhanced discoverability (86 percent), deepened brand trust (77 percent), and increased conversion (73 percent).

Another recent evolution in Mark Zuckerberg’s conglomerate saw Instagram add in-app checkout as part of its big push into shopping, offering brands a huge opportunity to release a visually rich customer journey entirely based in the app.

Importantly, visual content created and shared through social platforms carries huge value to brands in the wider ecosystem. Twenty-seven percent of UK-based clients reported featuring visual content from social media on product pages, and more than half (53 percent) say they plan to in the near future.

Discussing the findings, Joe Rohrlich, CRO of Bazaarvoice, said: “The retail landscape has continued to shift over the last year, as modern consumers seek unique shopping experiences, new engagement and purchase channels, and an increased level of brand and product transparency and authenticity. Brands and retailers that recognise these evolving preferences and deliver informative, interactive experiences online and offline can both retain their existing customers and attract new ones.”


David WhiteDavid WhiteApril 16, 2019
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4min656

High street cosmetics mainstay Lush recently raised eyebrows by announcing it was quitting its social media channels in the UK.

According to the firm, 16 percent of its social media mentions were negative, a number sure to increase now that the company is no longer operating its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

“Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed,” a Lush spokesperson said.

“So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our social channels and open up the conversation between you and us instead.”

The world of social media can be a harsh, competitive, dog-eat-dog environment for brands and publishers. New algorithms implemented by social media platforms now mean that posts from friends and families are prioritised on your newsfeed, leaving brands and publishers in the dark and left with no option but to pay to get their content seen.

So why have brands started to see less social organic reach? This all started in the January 2018 when Mark Zukerberg changed Facebook’s algorithm, stating: “With this update, we will also prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

The impact this had on brands’ organic social reach was astronomical, and it was undoubtedly a smart move by Facebook (which also owns Instagram), which used its power to force businesses to pay them more.

Meanwhile, recent research from Statista revealed that social media marketing spend has increased year-on-year – a number not likely to reduce anytime soon given these changes:

So, a smart move for Facebook, but is this a smart move for Lush? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

Lush had built up a loyal following of over one million followers, a following which they could use in any upcoming marketing campaigns or for messages they want to convey. It’s important to remember that social media is as much as a customer service channel as it is a sales channel.

Customers who want to air their frustrations will do it, and they will most likely do it on social media. The fact that a brand would choose to ignore this is concerning to say the least.

It might be that 16 percent of Lush’s social mentions were negative, but if ignored this number could dramatically increase and cause serious brand reputation problems.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 10, 2019
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3min556

The axing of UK social media accounts by cosmetics giant Lush could lead to more retailers turning their backs on the channels and embracing live chat, it is predicted.

The high street favourite, which has over half-a-million followers on Instagram, over 400,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and over 200,000 followers on Twitter, has urged customers to contact them only by email, phone, or through its website via a live chat system.

The move is the result of the firm being “tired of fighting with algorithms”, and a spokesperson said: “We don’t want to limit ourselves to holding conversations in one place, we want social to be placed back in the hands of our communities – from our founders to our friends.”

However, Lush North America has confirmed its social media channels would remain in operation, while the UK company has said it will look at a new approach to social media communication through use of hashtags and influencers.

The decision has been described as a “bold move” by Sandra Schroeter, the Senior International Product Marketing Manager at LogMeIn, who said it was in line with current consumer trends.

“It also highlights the many benefits of choosing live chat to support customer engagement,” she said.

“In fact our recent survey found that 71 percent of businesses believe online chat with either a human agent or a chatbot will be among the most common channels used by customers in three years’ time. Live chat enables retailers and businesses alike to respond to customer queries with speed and in real-time. Perhaps more importantly, it enables businesses to own the conversations and speak to customers directly.”

She added: “Lush’s bold move in the UK should inspire more retailers to embrace live chat to connect with customers more directly.”




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