With UK consumers set to spend more this Christmas than any other country within the EU, a report by ING has retailers hoping that these figures are accurate, as a year’s success or failure increasingly depend on Christmas sales. Online retailers especially hope that the spending frenzy of Cyber Monday will continue.
Nigel Wilson, managing director of consumer insight at Experian Marketing Services, said that the pre-Christmas shopping peaks were "clearly identifiable". Consumers appear to have greater confidence in delivery services and after browsing and researching products over the weekend, the first two Mondays in December are now peak online shopping days. And according to analysis from the business advisory firm Deloitte, sales this December are forecast to rise 4% year-on-year with consumers spend predicted at £42.4bn – that’s £1.5bn more than December 2013.
But with everyone flocking to purchase online, not all retailers are able to cope with the amount of visitors to their websites, which will leave some customers - looking for an online bargain - frustrated. Customers are still expecting instant, 24/7 customer service across multiple channels, and pressures on contact centres will increase in the lead up to Christmas.
Making a list
Happy customers gets you on the ‘nice’ list, equal repeat business, and have them sharing their experience with friends, colleagues and family. Emulating great customer experience is however a long road for those who have neglected their customers for years.
Although the numbers of consumer engagement with digital technology is growing daily - and some retailers are adopting a multichannel model - customer satisfaction levels are lower than in January 2011 - during the UK recession - which should concern not just retailers but all businesses, no matter their industry. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) survey, conducted across 197 organisations, a survey - involving nearly 10,000 customers - saw almost half of the businesses’ customer satisfaction levels drop by at least one point, which included businesses that are consistently amongst the highest rated by their customers.
Checking it twice
And it has never been more important to engage and deliver great customer service with online sales forecasted to account for 13% of total sales. Although just one percentage point more than December 2013, online will account for a 50% increase of market growth.
As the online world of retail expands into our physical shopping habits - driven by our desire to access information on products and services and to compare prices – retailers will need to adapt to keep customers engaged with instant access to the information through search, FAQs and across social platforms too.
Naughty or nice
Whether a business operates online, offline, or both, the most important thing should be the customer, and the experience delivered to them. It doesn’t matter how big or small the business, the oldest brand value remains: Good, informative customer service and a multi-channel strategy that supports this. If not, ending up on the ‘naughty’ list will surely impact the future of the business. Retailers developing their customer service strategy might want to visit the download section on our website where we can offer insight into:
Increasing customer satisfaction & loyalty levels
Reducing customer contact – improving first contact resolution
Offering a consistent multi-channel customer service