While retailers are meeting some of the expectations of their customers, consumers have a strong idea of what they expect from the stores that they are most loyal to, and that involves special treatment such as lower prices, loyalty programme events, and early access to sale items, according to a survey by US-based customer strategy firm Grizzard Performance Group.
The survey examined the realities of consumer expectations and retailer offerings with regard to customer service during the holiday season.
Michael King, group vice president for the Grizzard Performance Group, warned: "Retailers are missing the mark on what consumers really want. Consumers want more than special pricing; they want to feel different from those that are less loyal, and retailers have been slow to respond."
According to King, connecting with customers just before and during the holiday shopping season may help to generate seasonal sales but it does not necessarily build stronger customer relationships and higher lifetime value.
The key findings of the survey included:
- 75% of consumers believe that they should receive special treatment at stores that they are particularly loyal to during the holidays.
- An earlier survey (May 2005) found 78% of consumers expect year-round special treatment from stores they are loyal to.
- Retailers only meet the desires of the consumer 33% of the time when it comes to the preferred types of special treatment they expect in return for their year-round loyalty to specific stores.
- The top three forms of special treatment provided by retailers include: special pricing; more personalised and customised communications; and special access to company phone numbers and web pages.
- The top three forms of specialised treatments requested by consumers, however, included: special pricing; first access to new and sale merchandise; invitations to loyalty club-only only events.
- Fully half of consumers admitted that they are bothered that the retailers they patronise frequently seem only to recognise their value just before or and during the holidays.
The study surveyed over 1,000 consumers in addition to the top 25 retail companies (based on revenue).