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  • NETMEDIA International

Consumers oscillate between a search for efficiency and emotional connection

Personalized service, a pleasant shopping experience and transparency are among consumers' main expectations, according to the third edition of the "X Index" barometer, owned by BETC Fullsix.

While pure player retailers meet consumers' functional expectations (quick response, follow-up, etc.), brick-and-mortar players are more expected to make an emotional connection, according to the "X Index" barometer, published by BETC Fullsix and OpinionWay. In this framework, brands are evaluated according to 40 criteria covering the entire customer journey:

  • brand criteria ("I am very attached to this brand", "this brand keeps its commitments"...),

  • the relationship ("quality of the customer service", "the content of the website and mobile application is personalised according to the needs of the customers"...),

  • the purchase ("the purchase was smooth", "the purchase was pleasant"...),

  • the product/service ("I am satisfied with the price of the product/service", "I am satisfied with the quality of the product/service"...),

  • the brands' response to the Covid-19 crisis ("the brand has adapted its shopping experience", "has maintained a relevant and responsible communication").

For Sébastien Houdusse, chief strategy officer of BETC Fullsix: "In 2021, the quality of the customer experience is a key to business performance for brands. And this year, companies will have to work to meet customer expectations that are almost schizophrenic. On the one hand, there is a demand for increased efficiency, represented by the criteria of simplicity and fluidity of the customer journey. And on the other, the need for a more human dimension, for an emotional bond with the brand throughout the journey.

For companies, this demands concentration and coordination between departments and functions. Customer experience can no longer be the sole domain of the marketing, CRM or e-commerce department, it must be integrated into the heart of the organisation as it is a strong contributor to brand value."

The survey's authors therefore advise companies to combine efficiency, respect for promises and differentiation of their service thanks to emotion. For example, the criteria "fluidity" and "simplicity" represent 31% of the "X Index" score in England.

Furthermore, the fact that "the brand keeps its commitments" is in the top three of the most discriminating criteria cited by consumers in France and the United States. In France, physical retailers with integrated services score 25% on the item "it's a brand I trust implicitly". Thus, the transparency and consistency of the brand with its values appear to be crucial.

Furthermore, due to the shift towards a more digital customer journey, the criterion of sales efficiency, to which consumers paid a great deal of attention last year, has fallen sharply in France. It now represents only 7% of the "X Index" score, compared to 16% in the last edition of the study. In China and the United States, this criterion is no longer discriminating. On the other hand, topics related to personalisation now represent 30% of the "X Index" score for connected physical retailers.

However, the statement "the shopping experience was pleasant" is the most important criterion for consumers in the majority of the markets covered by the study. Thus, the ability of retailers to provide emotional connection to their customers should not be overshadowed by efficiency requirements.

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