Digital first, not digital only
The circumstances surrounding the pandemic prompted a digitisation of business processes, including customer communications. Indeed, digital transformation was accelerated by several years. Customers accepted a digital-first approach and now expect it, along with a high level of personalisation; both consumers and B2B buyers have an expectation that businesses know their specific needs.
Essential to personalisation is channel preference. There was a massive shift of communications spend to digital in the two years pre-pandemic, but that potentially overlooks the power of print. Studies have found that print is the most highly trusted medium available to marketers today, while website advertising, particularly through social channels, is the least trusted.
When planning their customer communications strategy, businesses should also bear in mind generational differences. Younger generations typically prefer digital-first methods such as text and live chat to phone and have embraced self-service and chatbots. The pandemic has pushed older generations towards digital too, but organisations should be supportive and understanding of these new adopters as well as those who remain offline. In England, for example, this is nearly half of those aged over 75 – a significant proportion of a potential customer base who risk being lost via a digital-only strategy.
It’s not just missing the mark in terms of channel that could lose an organisation customer. Research by Quadient, a specialist in customer experience management software, found that 70 per cent of UK consumers would blacklist a company for failures in their customer communication, ranging from basic personal information errors, to using the pandemic as an excuse for delivering poor customer service, to sending spam. One-third said they have stayed with businesses which offered poor customer service during the pandemic but will be moving to competitors when things return to normal.