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Consumers say supermarkets among best at social engagement

Many types of business have improved their online interactions with consumers as a result of the pandemic, with consumers claiming supermarkets are among the most engaging

Supermarkets and retail banks are perceived as the best at engaging with customers, according to research by Twilio.

When talking to consumers and looking at customer interactions with brands on social media this past year, Twilio found that 54% of consumers believe supermarkets are the best at customer engagement. While this is a drop from 62% in 2020, the result still found supermarkets ranked among the top three verticals for good engagement with consumers.

But Twilio’s research found a perception gap between what consumers say makes a good customer experience and what certain industries are actually delivering.

Almost a quarter of consumers reported speed of response from a brand as the best indicator of good customer engagement, but more than half of consumers also said they want better interactions with brands despite response times speeding up as a result of the pandemic.

David Parry-Jones, senior vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Twilio, said: “Today, every customer interaction counts. While speed of response plays a part in good customer engagement, today’s consumers have high expectations across the board – they also expect flexibility, consistency and the ability to pick up a conversation where they left off.”

The pandemic was a tumultuous time for a lot of brands as lockdowns shifted most of life online – retailers and banks had to deal with an increasing numbers of online demands and users; whereas industries forced to shut down, such as those in travel and hospitality, suddenly had an influx of returns, cancellations and complaints to manage.

When it came to increasing their response times on social media, many industries were able to make significant improvement from July 2020 to July 2021, according to Twilio – consumer banking reduced response times by 60%, dropping from an average first response time of 259 minutes in 2020 to 103 in 2021.

Telecoms providers were also able to improve their response speeds, dropping from an average of 306 minutes in 2020 to 153 in 2021, as were retailers with a 29% drop in response time from 397 minutes in 2020 to 283 in 2021.

Other industries were only able to improve their response time by around 1% to 12% between 2020 and 2021.

Telecoms providers were ranked among the worst at customer engagement by consumers, with only 3% of customers saying telecoms providers were best at online customer service, putting telcos among airlines and hotels in customer perception, both of which take more than 300 minutes to respond to consumers on social platforms.

The pandemic also shifted consumer behaviour and expectation, with even those previously offline shifting towards a more digital mindset, with many people claiming this shift to online is likely to outlast the pandemic itself.

Twilio found a number of factors play into customer’s perception of brands, with more than half of customers saying their expectations of how retailers and brands should communicate with customers has changed as a result of the pandemic.

Around 15% of consumers only wanted one point of contact with a brand, and 10% want the point of contact to be via their preferred method of communication, whereas 18% want more flexibility in how they can communicate with brands.

But it’s the sentiment of the communication that means the most for some customers  – 12% of customers want more empathy in their communications with brands, and 10% of customers said feeling understood and listened to is an important part of interacting with a brand.

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