Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

30 April 2024 5 min. read
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What do consumers really want when engaging with brands and purchasing products/services? To help unravel that multi-faceted question, Merkle conducted a survey of over 2,000 consumers worldwide. A round-up of six key insights.

CX fundamentals

One of the first and more important things is to begin to understand customer experience (CX) from the customer's point of view. To better understand this, Merkle recommends thinking in terms of the three C’s: Cost effectiveness, convenience, and consistency.

Most respondents to the survey (55%) noted that they most value affordable and cost effective options. Besides that, the next most important things for consumers are convenience (46%) and consistency (40%).

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

Customer data

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, consumers are mostly comfortable with trusting brands with their personal data. If anything, this says a lot about how far customer experience has come overall and how the public has come to trust brands more.

In order to keep up that positive trend, brands should use that data fairly. While the survey showed most respondents were confident in allowing companies to use their data, they were less convinced that this data was being used to improve their costumer experience.

A total of 32% of respondents said that they believe companies are just using their data to make more money. Brands should be careful to not confuse consumer complacency with trust and should continue to raise the bar in terms of data.

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

Ethical AI

Consumers are pretty optimistic about brands enhancing experiences through AI-powered technology. However, their primary concerns lie in security and surveillance as more companies move towards embracing automation. 

Addressing these worries is crucial for brands, requiring transparency and ethical frameworks surrounding AI usage. Ethical AI practices not only mitigate consumer concerns but also pave the way for enhanced customer experiences and trust-building.

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

The human touch

There is a huge demand for digital experiences and the necessity to integrate digital options is without a doubt growing. Despite that, there is still a strong need for human interaction, especially when it comes to complex purchase processes and the need for customer services: No one wants to talk to a robot when they need answers fast.

Respondents overwhelmingly noted that they greatly prefer human interaction when requesting support, as opposed to digital experiences. Surprisingly, consumers also noted that they prefer human experiences when making purchases in a number of different sectors.

It should be noted that digital tools can greatly enhance human interactions, like for example innovations that allow customer service agents to better help customers.

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

The post-purchase experience

In most industries there was a strong response from most consumers that brands’ biggest area for improvement should be in the post-purchase experience – including fixing and maintaining products. This finding indicates that the customer experience clearly extends well beyond conversion.

This focus on the later stages of the experience should extend to less obvious considerations, like for example not spamming customers with poorly thought-out email campaigns or being targeted by ads for products or services a customer already bought.

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

Emerging technologies

Consumers ranked the innovative technologies that they believed were having the largest impact and being used the most by brands. The top ranked areas were things like mobile apps, rewards programs, and personalized product or service recommendations.

The innovations ranked as having a relatively low impact might be surprising to some brands that have already made big investments into them: Things like self-service checkout, personalized emails, chatbots, and virtual assistants, among others.

This finding may give pause to brands that are putting a focus on tools that are either not appreciated as much as previously thought or are not being used as much as thought.

Six critical imperatives for a great brand experience

Catering to consumers shifts

Based on their assessment, the authors of the Merkle report highlight that brands should be agile and responsive to major shifts, in order to remain at the forefront of their market and keep their customer happy.

“In the age of customer empowerment, a brand’s ability to anticipate shifting needs and behaviors may be the ultimate competitive advantage,” according to the authors. “In the experience economy, it’s not just about the product or service; it’s the sum total of all touchpoints and interactions working together to deepen relationships and build trust. When they feel seen, supported, and valued, empowered customers can move your business forward.”