How Retailers and Brands Upset Aussie Consumers

New research shows Australian consumers are tired of heavy-handed targeting tactics. Responsible use of data, efficient service and the occasional freebie are the best ways for retailers and brands to keep customers on the sweet side.

The SAP Hybris Consumer Insight survey shows brands are under increasing pressure to answer customer queries quickly, with almost half of Australians (45%) expecting a response within three hours. The vast majority (92%) expect their question to be answered within 24 hours.

Failing to meet these expectations has severe consequences, with 72% saying they won’t use a brand again if customer service is unresponsive. With international brands already renowned for speedy service, and market heavyweight Amazon arriving in Australia soon, SAP Hybris Australia and New Zealand head of business, Stuart O’Neill, says local brands must get on the front foot to stay competitive.

“Complacency is the biggest threat to Australian brands. They must respond quickly when customers reach out to them, and do so in a consistent manner whether it’s in-store, over the phone, online or via social media,” he says. “A customer’s time is precious and our research shows they have a low tolerance for brands that waste it. 

“This means all contact with a brand should be considered equal. Consumers see no distinction between their experiences in a dressing room, engaging with a chatbot or loading up an online cart. If any of these interactions provide a poor experience, consumers will seek a better one elsewhere.”

This is most apparent with Topshop Topman Australia’s online store being in disarray, only a few weeks after launching its e-commerce operations. The retailer received a barrage of customer complaints on its Facebook Page, mainly around failure to get a response from the company expressing a lack of communication from unreplied emails and phone calls querying their missing orders.

Valued customer experiences (and biggest turn-offs)

The research shows Australians view their personal data as a precious commodity, which must be protected and should only be used to improve their level of service.

Surprise discounts and freebies were a hit with 61 per cent of Australians when asked about valuable personalised experiences. Efficient customer service again ranked highly, with more than half valuing appropriate responses that show an understanding of their personal history. Relevant content (47%) is also valued by consumers. 

More than three-quarters of Australians (78) would not use a brand again if their personal data was used without their knowledge, while 68% look elsewhere after receiving unnecessary spam. The top three brand behaviours that bother consumers were too many direct marketing and sales calls (60%), too many marketing and sales emails (56%) and pushing irrelevant content (49%).

 “Beyond simply capturing customer data, brands need to analyse, contextualise and act on insights in real time if they’re to truly impress today’s consumers,” O’Neill says. “Brands that fail to adapt are in danger of quickly becoming irrelevant.”

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