Brand loyalty can be won or lost in just 76 seconds, according to consumer research from live chat provider LivePerson, which found that real-time access to human staff at critical moments remains an essential factor even for online businesses.
The global study, entitled Connecting with Customers, examined trends in online behaviour and consumer expectations, and found that 69% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides live, human assistance at critical moments, and 82% indicated that their perception of a brand improves when they can communicate with a real human via instant channels such as live chat.
When a customer needs help, the survey revealed that the window of opportunity to either win or lose brand loyalty is a mere 76 seconds. Consumers expect access to real-time help within 76 seconds and, if they don't get it, they tend to choose the slower, more frustrating option of email or worse, they abandon the company's web site entirely.
"The digital era is massively de-personalising, so whenever brands can engage their customers with a more personalised, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference," explained Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer for LivePerson. "No matter how connected today's consumers are, they still crave real-time, human communication with brands online, and they want it on the go, from the channel they are using at the time."
Digital engagement tools like live chat, which provide timely, one-to-one assistance to consumers, are becoming essential for increasing brand loyalty, especially as the amount of time consumers spend communicating with brands online increases: approximately one in five of consumers (19%) spend 50% of their shopping expenditure online. Failure to engage these consumers in the right way could translate to lost revenue and lost brand value.
The study revealed four underlying key themes:
- Brand Trust and Loyalty
Despite living in a digital world, where information or purchases are just a click away, it remains clear that there is no substitute for the human touch. Live digital engagement between brands and consumers is not only effective in driving revenue, but it also increases brand value and loyalty according to the survey. Some 78% of consumers agree that they are more likely to be loyal to a company that provides real time, one-to-one support at critical moments during their digital journey. More than 80% of global consumers indicated that they want to engage in live chat sessions when they need help online, and stated that they have a stronger perception of a brand when there is a real-time, human connection available. Additionally, 88% of respondents indicate that chat with a live agent makes their experience better when they need help online; and approximately 45% say they'd abandon a purchase if it wasn't possible to communicate with a company representative via live chat if they had a question or problem.
- Speed is Non-negotiable
Gone are the days of waiting hours for an email response, or even a few minutes to hold on a call. Today's consumers are on the go, and want to be able to connect with brands at any time, from anywhere. According to the research 73% of consumers stated speed and efficiency was the number one factor in creating a great online experience, and 72% of consumers cite immediacy as crucial when communicating with a brand when they have a question or need assistance. In addition, 56% of respondents indicated they would return as a customer if a brand saved them time online.
- High Impact Moments
Throughout the digital journey, there are particular points when consumers are more likely to need help or guidance in order to reach their goal. If brands identify and anticipate consumer needs in these moments that matter most and engage them right away, they can better help the consumer to reach their goal. If they fail to provide the right support or engagement, they risk losing that customer all together. According to research, the most critical moments in the customer journey where assistance is needed include: when a consumer has a specific question about a product or service they want to buy (42%), as well as the actual moment of purchase, with 35% of respondents saying that they need help or support at this stage. And even after the purchase has been made, consumers want access to help or support when they have a problem with the product after they receive it (35%).
- Consumer Expectations and Frustration
Although brands invest significant resources into their digital assets, consumer expectations are constantly evolving, creating both an opportunity and challenge for brands to keep up with the pace of change. The "Connecting with Customers" research indicates that 49% of consumers continue to find websites difficult to navigate, with 33% struggling to seek help or locate customer service. The results of a poor online experience can be substantial according to the research, with 45% of consumers stating they will abandon their purchase; 43% will feel a loss of trust; and 32% don't feel valued as a customer.
The implications for brands are clear - a positive experience drives loyalty, and a negative one can be very harmful to a company's bottom line and reputation. More than two thirds of respondents (78%) stated they are more likely to be loyal to a brand as a result of a positive online experience.