Research commissioned by Fujitsu Services, one of Europe’s leading IT services companies, has revealed that retailers are not meeting high consumer expectations for automated services that offer increased convenience and improved customer experience – despite the technology being available.
The pan-European research, which consisted of 12 focus groups and quantitative questionnaires completed by 2,400 people, illustrated a strong willingness amongst consumers to try new self-service technologies. Over two thirds of those questioned felt that automated services improve the efficiency and convenience of their lives. However, in order to ensure consumer satisfaction, retailers need to shift from an operational model focused on generating cost savings and reducing headcount, to a more customer-centric approach.
Managing customer experience across multiple channels is also a key challenge for retailers. Consumers view a retail brand as one business and expect the same experience no matter which channel they are using for product research, purchasing or queries. Almost 70% said they find it irritating when they have to submit personal details more than once. In contrast, many retailers still run online operations and other service channels like telephone contact centres, in silos of their own, almost entirely separate from the store network.
Dr Mark Dorgan, European retail partner at Fujitsu Services, comments: “The key theme to emerge from talking to consumers across Europe is that they are clear about the service they expect from retailers and in many cases they do not feel these expectations are being met.”
He continues: “In an age where people are empowered to tailor products and services to their own needs, consumers expect retailers to make the shopping experience convenient, whilst also offering choice in terms of products available and service channels. If customers can’t get the service they expect from a retailer they are likely to look elsewhere. Multi-channel technologies, both inside and outside the store, are available and consumers are willing and eager to explore their benefits. Retailers know they need to catch up in this rapidly evolving area – the time to act is now, because consumers demand it.”
The focus group research revealed that whilst the availability of automated technologies is not in itself a crucial differentiator in determining brand loyalty, it can have a noticeable impact on the consumer’s attitude to a brand. In order to encourage a good customer experience, retailers need to understand why the customer is shopping with them and their expectations, so that they can focus on how the customer feels at each touchpoint.
Nikki Cope / Sally Lloyd
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Company:McKenna Townsend PR
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