Rising inflation and concerns about economic instability have both brands and consumers concerned. But, after years of pandemic-related restrictions and guidelines, no one wants to give up their "new normal". This makes customer experience programs even more important than ever.
Consumers are becoming more selective about where they spend their money. In fact, Morning Consult found that 85% of consumers say rising inflation has impacted how they shop. This can range from shopping discounts to swapping brand name goods in favor of less expensive, generic ones, or even deferring discretionary purchases.
As a result, brands need to ensure their customer experience is top-notch to remain a part of consumers’ regular routine and a necessary expense.
Deloitte recently found that 48% of consumers feel in-store shopping is more stressful this year than last. And that’s compared to 54% in 2020 - during a global pandemic! However, this doesn’t mean in-store shopping will be replaced by online shopping. According to Ipsos, 75% of consumers still say there will always be products they want to purchase in person.
This means it will be the brands that can reduce the stress of in-store shopping that will continue to attract consumers. How can brands mitigate this stress? Customers have the answers. Voice of customer programs are a crucial resource. They allow brands to learn how customers are feeling about them and their offerings as well as what they want to see more of.
Maintain an Emotional Connection
Constant measurement is required as consumer habits and the economic landscape continues to change. Showing consumers you listen to and value their feedback will not only improve response rates to customer surveys but also make your brand an important part of their routine.
Whether it’s getting tacos from their favorite restaurant on Tuesday or walking to their local coffee shop in the morning, consumers can control their routines now more than they have been able to for more than two years. As they look to reduce spending where they can, the last things to go will be ones they have an emotional connection to. Consumers will continue to frequent stores that have become part of their new normal.
There is a perception among consumers that brands cut corners to maintain their margins. A great example of this is “shrinkflation”. This refers to when the price of products remains the same but the volume or quantity is reduced. Brands have little control over what cost-cutting measures their suppliers use but have complete control over their own operational standards.
Ensuring consistent experiences across all locations, especially when consumers are stressed and anxious, will make them feel like they can rely on your brand for the comfort of normal. Monitoring the execution of regular tasks with mobile inspection software and objectively measuring it with mystery shopping visits is the best way to ensure consistency.
Customer Experience’s Impact on Employees
Consumers are not the only ones facing challenges. Brands have been implementing all manner of initiatives to attract and retain employees. These can range from on-demand pay to expanded college benefits. But while there is plenty of talk about the impact of happy employees on customers, the opposite is equally powerful.
Happy customers will improve the day-to-day experience of employees. And happy employees will in turn boost your customer’s experience and brand performance. For example, our 2022 Drive-Thru Study showed that friendly service improved both speed of service and order accuracy.
Just as consumers are looking at their expenses and wondering where they can cut back, so are brands. However, cutting customer experience programs and losing that connection to consumers is a sure-fire way to drive them toward competitors who have not.
In order to retain existing customers, and attract those who are changing their shopping behaviors, brands need to consistently understand what their customers want, how well they are delivering on these needs, and implement any changes they can to deliver more. These three aspects are the basis of any robust customer experience program.
Whether you’re launching a new program or expanding on an existing one, contact us to learn more about how we can help you deliver on your customers' expectations.