Author: David Webber
In the current economic climate, it would be reasonable to expect that price points might be beginning to erode consumer brand loyalty as they seek out the best deals at the expense of their favourite retailers. However, a recent survey from e-commerce and digital marketing solutions provider EPiServer revealed that the majority of online shoppers prefer to shop from a handful of their favourite websites rather than hunt around for the best price. This statistic gains greater significance when one considers that a third of the 1,000 respondents confirmed that they had increased their levels of online shopping over the last year. With this number expected to explode this year, it will become increasingly important for retailers and financial institutions to consider the customer experience they are offering across all channels, particularly when it comes to financial services and money management.
Brand loyalty is inextricably tied to customer experience, and the emergence of digital channels means that there are more customer touch points than ever before. Consumers are increasingly less likely to have a single channel preference, and instead demand a consistent and intuitive user experience across whichever channel they choose for any one transaction.
Retailers are traditionally better at communicating their online brand than banks, though as competition in the banking sector gains pace, and non-traditional entrants including retailers begin to move into the financial services space, banks cannot afford to fall behind.
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Intelligent Environments revealed that a strong majority of consumers (60 per cent) still trust their banks the most with financial services, out of all the brands they interact with regularly, with supermarkets trailing at 3 per cent. Nearly half (49 per cent) rated effective online banking services as the most important factor when it comes to bank loyalty, although there are still frustrations with the quality of this service at times.
As consumers sweep from channel to channel, financial institutions and retailers must take advantage of these customer touch points, providing a service that is not only functional, but also communicates the brand value and experience that they wish to convey. The challenge is to ensure that the user experience is consistent, seamless, and intuitive across all channels.
The benefits of this approach extend far beyond driving brand loyalty to an increased ability to target customers with e-marketing and cross-sales, as well as serving as a messaging tool to alert customers to relevant products, promotions and services across all devices. It is clear that customers are seeking a multi-channel experience. Competitive advantage and brand favour will belong to those who offer a timely response to this demand.