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More than half of consumers are more influenced by past customer product reviews than they are by advice from retailers themselves, according to research.
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A study by conversational commerce platform iAdvize found 54% of UK consumers are more likely to be influenced by product reviews than retailer advice, and more than half of consumers think instant advice given online is the best way to have questions about products answered.
Julien Hervouët, CEO at iAdvize, said retailers should be more aware of how their brands are represented through consumer conversation online now so many consumers are using such channels for purchasing advice.
“It’s interesting to see the crucial role regular customers now play in the sales process, as it’s often an area many retailers leave uninfluenced,” he said. “But with 58% of regular customers claiming they would help their preferred retailer in an advocate capacity, and one in 10 willing to give up their time for free, retailers need to seriously consider a strategy for greater brand endorsement.”
Three-quarters of customers said they trust the opinions of other customers over those of retail staff when they make a purchase, and 17% said they would be more likely to buy something if they were offered assistance by another customer rather than a member of staff.
Offering a range of channels for customer interaction is becoming increasingly important as more and more consumers are choosing to interact with brands across several channels including online, in-store and through mobile.
This increase in omni-channel behaviour across the retail industry has led customers to expect more of brands and retailers, including a persistant and fast experience across all channels.
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Over 80% of customers have said they want to be offered a choice of customer service options during their purchasing journey.
Many retailers are now offering the opportunity for web customers to live-chat with an advisor in stores, and with consumers preferring to gain advice from customers rather than retailers, there could be a strategic opportunity for retailers to enlist more loyal consumers to offer advice through these channels in the future.
Over 70% of customers want to be offered the opportunity to web-chat with retail staff, and 26% said being given the chance to live-chat would make them more likely to shop with that brand again in the future.
Almost 80% of customers said they would like to live-chat with another regular consumer of the brand they are considering purchasing from, and many said real-time video chat, communicating via a messaging app or social media communications are channels they would like to see supported in the future.
Most customers now expect to be able to communicate with brands via social media, and many claim being able to get in touch with brands through social media channels can improve their loyalty to the brand.