Over the past few years, brand authenticity has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the retail sector. The reason is simple: brand values are more important to consumers than ever; and shoppers will show far more loyalty to brands that demonstrate integrity and authenticity. According to one study, 91% of consumers worldwide are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity by recommending it to friends, or by buying a product. In today’s hyper-competitive retail environment brand authenticity has therefore become a crucial competitive differentiator.
The barrier to true authenticity
However, there’s a danger that many companies’ attempts to create authentic experiences online are being hindered by an incomplete customer experience investment strategy. Currently, many businesses are investing heavily in data-centric customer acquisition and marketing applications. These solutions aim to use customer and other data to create new levels of personalisation and connectivity. The end goal is to market to people as individuals over whichever retail channel suits them best; and offer richer, context-aware shopping experiences.
So far so good, and of course it’s absolutely right that brands invest in these technologies. However, for most companies their investment stops at the point of purchase. Imagine how that looks from the consumer’s point of view. Up until then, they’ve been targeted with carefully crafted, personalised messages that have created a feeling of goodwill towards the brand. They’ve then been able to easily make a purchase through a seamless front-end application over their desired channel. But from there – radio silence. The brand that spent all that time and effort courting them disappears, their money in hand. That seems to be the very opposite of authenticity.
Go beyond the purchase
Recent research by Narvar in the UK shows just how damaging this post-purchase ‘ghosting’ of customers can be. Our poll of more than 3,000 shoppers showed that UK consumers are four times less likely to repeat-purchase from retailers who abandon them after a sale. The people we spoke to were equally clear about what they do want; and were vocal about wanting to be kept in the loop when waiting for a delivery. So, for example, 61% of the people we spoke to said they want fast and direct communications following a purchase, even if it’s about bad news; and 65% said they would be put off from buying again from a retailer that failed to provide such communications.
What these customers want is true, holistic customer journeys; end-to-end experiences which provide them with timely, accurate and personal communications following a purchase. The same level of care, thought and branding that goes into a marketing promotion needs to be applied to every post-purchase communication around orders, delivery dates, returns, service, care and proactive updates when things go wrong.
In today’s age of customer empowerment, the post-purchase experience is far too important to ignore, or delegate blindly on to carriers – no matter how competent they may be. It’s an important link in the customer experience chain and a vital touchpoint to convey brand values. What’s more, it’s the only way to deliver truly authentic experiences.
For more on what to consider before deciding to purchase or build a post-purchase solution, download our latest eBook, Build vs. Buy: A Guide to Choosing the Right Post-purchase Solution for Your Business.