brands study

When it comes to customer retention and loyalty, brands need to rethink sales as transactional. Instead, they should view it as the shopper does: as part of an emotional relationship between them and the brand.

And since it’s seen as an emotionally driven relationship, brands that don’t follow through on promises and fail to meet expectations can damage that relationship, according to a just-released study by customer experience optimization platform provide InMoment. Researchers at the firm surveyed 10,000 brands from 12 counties along with 20,000 consumers.

The report revealed that brands are meeting consumer expectations results in loyalty and satisfaction. “Thirty-eight percent of consumers associated the emotion ‘satisfaction’ with positive brand experiences, while 40 percent of consumers chose that same emotion to describe their experience with brands to which they are loyal,” the researchers said in their report. “Pairing these findings with a deeper dive into the qualitative data revealed that consumers are both happy and loyal when brands simply deliver on what consumers feel they’ve been promised.”

For brands, they cited “satisfaction” as the “most common emotion they associate with delivering positive customer experiences.” But the firm said brands “do so at a lower rate (26 percent versus 38 percent), and place much more stock in emotions like ‘feeling part of something special’ (14 percent for brands and just 7 percent for consumers).”

Conversely, when brands miss the mark with consumer expectations, the impact is high. “In the study, consumers used strong, personal language to describe bad experiences,” the researchers said. “The top emotions were ‘disappointed, disrespected’ and ‘frustrated,'” the report noted adding that in the poll comments, consumers used words such as impotence, rage and worthless in describing brands that failed to meet expectations.

The report noted that brands also ranked “disappointed” the highest at 29 percent. “However, they drastically underestimated the rates at which consumers feel ‘disrespected’ at just 13 percent, and consumers were nearly twice as likely as brands to say they associate the emotion of ‘anger’ with bad experiences (19 percent versus 10 percent),” the reported stated. “In other words, brands believe consumers are simply let down when their expectations are not met. In reality, consumer emotions are much stronger and much more personal.”

Brennan Wilkie, senior vice president of customer experience strategy at InMoment, the study confirms that “customers increasingly see their interactions with brands as more relationship-oriented than transaction-based.”

“Customer expectations are actually very reasonable, so failing to deliver on the brand promise leaves them with strong, negative emotions,” Wilkie said. “If the brand promise is in alignment with consumer expectations and consistently delivered, customers are much more like likely to continue, and even grow that relationship.”

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