Social media influence increases: Pan-European survey reveals multichannel customer experiences
eGain’s cross-industry benchmarking report charts consumer buying behaviour, experience, and interaction channel preferences across customer lifecycle. By Zara May.
By Zara May
Social reviews prove increasingly influential in consumer buying decisions, according to an independent survey of 3,000 European consumers announced today. The findings, published in the eGain 2012 cross-industry benchmarking report for multichannel customer experience, comprehensively chart influences on consumer buying behaviour and service preferences in seven European economies, and ranks Internet Retail, Telecoms, Utilities, Travel & Leisure, Finance and Manufacturing sectors based on the quality of consumer experiences. The survey was undertaken online by Vision Critical and commissioned by eGain Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: EGAN).
Internet retailers top the list
According to the survey, Internet Retail scored the highest at every stage of the customer engagement cycle, and Utilities the lowest, with more consumers rating their experiences with Internet Retailers as ‘excellent’ (a score of 5/5) than any other industry. The sector was rated as excellent in ‘first interaction’ (21%), ‘follow-up approach’ (16%), and ‘meeting expectations and engendering loyalty’ (19%).
See below more highlights from the report.
Top positive and negative influences on purchase decisions
o The most cited causes for abandoning a purchase are: unclear or confusing expectation of service (26%); payment and sign up processes were too lengthy or complicated (21%); and negative social reviews (20%)
o In the UK, negative social reviews and ratings were the biggest influence on shopping basket abandonments (30%) whereas in France, negative social reviews were as influential as unclear service expectations (both 25%).
o When asked to rate positive influences on completing a purchase or transaction, a fast response to an email (41%) and a good website FAQ (38%) came top. Neck and neck were social recommendations and a telephone call with the business (22% and 24% respectively). In the 18-to-34 year age group, social influence was even higher at 29%.
Consumers like to channel-hop
o When seeking help, 2 in 5 consumers will begin a service interaction with phone or email, while 1 in 5 will choose to help themselves via web self-service. German and UK consumers are 2 times more likely as those in Benelux and Scandinavia to make online self-help their entry point for customer service. German consumers prefer email (38%) to the telephone (30%), in contrast to the rest of Europe, where phone is the preferred first channel.
o When consumers add a second channel to that same interaction, for escalation or convenience, self-help becomes more popular with 1 in 3 consumers choosing online web self-service to seek assistance, while social media is cited as a preferred channel with 1 in 10 consumers.
o Email (48%) and phone (32%) are still the go-to channels when it comes to complaints. However, a significant proportion of consumers (17%) would use web chat or social media as their first choice channel to complain. When consumers add an additional channel to their complaint interaction, social media proves difficult to ignore, with over 13% choosing it as their preferred channel of choice.
Consumers welcome the right sales offer through the right channel, at the right time
• Despite consumers’ supposed revolt against SPAM, SPIT and SPIM, the survey found 61% would consider a promotional email offer for a complementary product, and 59% a loyalty reward offer sent through email.
• For contract renewal offers, better than 1 in 5 people would consider a telephone offer, and 1 in 2 an emailed offer.
• Benelux is the region least receptive to offers on complementary products or services: 1 in 5 say ‘not in any circumstances’.
Service expectations rise with loyalty and price
• Consumers strongly disagreed with the statement ‘When I pay a bargain price for a product or service, I’m willing to accept a lower level of customer support’. In other words, businesses can ill-afford to offer shoddy service, even if they offer bargain prices.
• However, 50% of those same respondents expect an even higher level of customer support when they demonstrate loyalty or pay a premium for service.
Andrew Mennie, general manager, eGain EMEA said, “Today’s consumers are highly sophisticated and demand universally high service across interaction channels and the customer lifecycle. However, when expanding or extending a relationship, customer experience becomes even more influential. The survey shows that consumers are increasingly taking a ‘something for something’ approach with service expectations; expecting premium pricing and customer loyalty to warrant enhanced levels of customer service. Any winning business strategy should therefore include service as an important element. As the survey indicates, this approach can also help enhance profits and customer loyalty.
“The power of consumer opinion, expressed via social media, is now too significant to ignore. Not only are social reviews highly influential at the start of the customer experience, but social channels are also an increasingly important part of the customer interaction mix as that journey progresses. Add to this consumers’ tendency to channel-hop, and a unified approach to multi-channel service becomes key to providing the consistent and context-aware experiences that today’s consumers demand.”
To download the eGain 2012 cross-industry benchmarking report for multichannel customer experience, go to http://comms.egain.net/egain-survey. For further information on statistics and analysis please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vision Critical surveyed 3000 consumers split over the 18-34 years, 35-55 years and 55+ years demographics, in each of the following markets: Germany (n= 672), France (n=519), UK (n=496), Italy (n=487), Spain (n=382), Benelux (Belgium/Netherlands only) (n=224), Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland) (n=206). Outgoing sample was balanced by age and gender. Final results were weighted to be representative of population size of each market proportional to the total EU population. Fieldwork dates ran 17th - 24th January 2012.
About the author
Zara May is PR for eGain, a provider of cloud and on-site customer interaction hub software. For over a decade, eGain solutions have helped improve customer experience, optimize service process and grow sales—across the web, social, and phone channels. Hundreds of the world’s largest companies rely on eGain to transform their fragmented sales engagement and customer service operations into unified Customer Interaction Hubs (CIHs). www.egain.com