Consumer 2.0 – It’s all about the customer experience.

Consumer 2.0, front page, Perry & Banks on June 9th, 2011 Comments Off on Consumer 2.0 – It’s all about the customer experience.

Consumers today are a pretty sophisticated bunch. We’ve all learned to dodge the hard sell, weave through vague claims and parry “Trust Me” attempts. But there is one thing we all still crave – a good customer experience. Recent studies by Forrester, Gartner and other research firms confirm that keeping customers happy and loyal is all about delivering a great customer experience. Here’s what today’s consumer has to say to businesses about it.

1. “I expect you to be smarter. Faster. Better.”
The bar is set pretty high thanks to our ability to do research and comparison shop online. Consumers expect you to be smart at every turn; smart about complaints (which can turn into another sale), about customer needs (which can create new products), and innovative thinking (which can keep consumers engaged).

2. “I don’t trust you – yet.”
But the opportunity is there. Consumers want authentic experiences with people who know their product.  These days, trust in many companies has eroded and today’s consumer is wary to a fault. Honestly engaging with your customers means a lot to them, as long as you pay close attention to the next bullet.

3. “I want you to listen.”
The new consumer perspective is uncompromising. “I’m an individual and I’m smart. I know what I want…and what I don’t want.  If you want to make a sale, do a little research and tell me what you can do to help solve my problem. Be realistic – I am.”

4. “I am self-directed. ”
Consumers want to do business on their own time, in their own comfort zone and with the tools they like the best.  Yet when they get stuck they want knowledgeable, courteous help at their fingertips. Use all the tools you can afford – product guides, on-line chat, and a real person who answers the phone without putting customers through “many of our options have changed – press 1” hell.

5. “I’m ready to spend money and be loyal – provided you give me the ‘best’ customer experience.”
Here are the brands that consumers rated the best  – and the worst – in the nation for customer experience, according to the Forrester Customer Experience Index 2011.

Most of the brands rated “excellent” are in the retail sector. Nine of the ten brands that earned “excellent” ratings were retailers. Bookstores Borders and Barnes & Noble took the top two spots. Behind them were department stores Kohl’s and JCPenney, warehouse stores Costco and BJ’s, discounter Target, online retailer Amazon.com, and Walgreens. The one nonretailer in the group was USAA’s credit card business.

“Very poor” rankings were dominated by companies in the health insurance, TV service provider, and ISP industries. The two lowest scores went to Medicaid and Anthem BlueCross Blue Shield.

Loyalty, trust, gratitude and sales can all be yours – if you simply understand the consumer’s perspective. I believe that’s what my grandfather meant when he told me to “Walk a mile in another’s shoes.” Seems to work for Zappo’s!

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