Think about a purchase you made 10 years ago. Maybe that’s too long ago to remember. What about a purchase from the past year? Now ask yourself, what resources did you have at your disposal to ensure that your purchase was exactly what you wanted? In the digital world today, we have more resources than ever to keep companies accountable for their products and experiences. While this might sound great for consumers, it’s forcing companies to constantly change and evolve to the needs of their customers.

A recent study by Accenture reveals that today’s digital technologies have reshaped customer’s buying behavior to the extent that almost all customers have become digital customers. The study largely attributes this switch to the emergence of what they call the “Nonstop Customer.”

The Nonstop Customer

Accenture’s research explores the evolution of the ways customers learn about companies, purchase products, and access customer support over the last 10 years. Today’s customer, for example:

  • Use more digital channels than ever – compared to the 78% of people who used at least one digital channel just five years ago, 88% of customers use digital channels today.
  • Look for different options – 66% of customers consider multiple companies and brands when they decide what to purchase and where to make it.
  • Listen to what others say – people read more customer reviews and take into account the experiences of previous purchases to make their decisions.
  • Seek fewer hassles – almost two-thirds of customers said they use online channels for sales, marketing, and services because of their speed and convenience.

The Nonstop Customer has an easier and faster way to access the information they need to make purchasing decisions. While businesses may contribute this growth of digital dependency to the millennial generation, they could be missing out on valuable customers. Accenture’s research shows that groups of older individuals are becoming more open the use of digital channels over the traditional customer experience.

Eight Struggles to Keep Up with Consumers

Smart businesses acknowledge the evolution of society’s needs and wants over the past decade. However, the struggle for these companies isn’t changing their strategies to meet their customer’s needs, but rather keeping up with the constant changes and improvements that are require to stay trusted by their customers. The Accenture study gives us eight consumer trends that are causing companies to struggle in meeting the demands of their customers.

Customers are always looking for something new

With more options to choose from and easier ways to search, today’s consumers are more open to researching multiple different products before purchasing.

Companies are failing to resolve their customers problems on first-contact

Many businesses lose customers because the resolution to their problems or concerns takes too many steps. Companies failed to solve their problem on the initial customer response.

Companies are failing to make their website easy to prospect by customers

Only 14% of consumers strongly agree that companies are effectively providing a good user experience while on their site.

Customers hesitate to trust companies that prevent them from using digital channels

Digital and traditional channels are relatively close in the approval of customer for support channels, but companies lose customers by lacking the resources to fully inform their customers.

Expectations for customer service is rising faster than companies can meet them

Some of the most popular customer complaints are failure to deliver on promises, slow customer service, and lack on interaction.

Customer loyalty programs are not enough to keep customers from leaving

Even though customers gain interest through loyalty programs, the deals companies offer are not meeting the expectations of their customers.

Lack of compelling offers to win back customers

Only 25% of customers are happy with the pricing of the companies they buy from. Many said they would return to a particular brand if they offered a more enticing deal.

New “non-traditional” competitors are gaining popularity with customers

Customers are more willing to look are companies that are not generally defined as specific industry businesses for products or services.

How to Keep and Win Customers

These trends shows the challenges that companies face in today’s digital marketplace, but don’t worry, there’s hope. Accenture explains how companies can break these trends and expand their brand to keep and gain more customers.

  • Companies should strive for creating the most effective digital experience for their customers. They need to work to improve their interaction and communication with customers.
  • Rather than thinking of your business strategy as a business-to-customer model. Companies should work to utilize all digital channels and create a seamless connection between their services and the customer needs.
  • Instead of focusing investments geared toward addressing internal improvements, companies should look to optimize the experience of their customers.

Final Thoughts

The journey each customer goes on when making purchasing decisions is different for every individual, but the growing dependency on digital resources is creating problems for many businesses. The access to vital information has created a level of expectation by customers that businesses are expected to meet. The Accenture study breaks out eight of the most common trends that are today’s companies are having to deal with. By devoting more attention to meeting the demands of their customers, businesses can improve and profit from the changing nature of the digital environment.

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