The race to gain trust and fulfil modern consumer expectations

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Thanks to the dominant role that social media is starting to play in an increasingly polarised society, instant experiences are now shaping the fabric of all aspects of everyday life. The new challenge for brands is to offer services that cater to modern customer requirements and provide the immediate experiences they yearn for.

Societal change has created a long-term impact on consumer behaviours, and expectations for prompt responses are now higher than ever. Half of social media users now expect a brand to respond to their tweet within three hours, and those that fail to meet this expectation risk losing customers to competitors.

Brands like Starbucks and Virgin Atlantic have recently pivoted their approaches to provide hyper-personalised customer experiences, and this has paid dividends in terms of boosted customer loyalty. On the flip side, businesses that are less digitally literate and have failed to keep up with the times face bridging a gap that is only broadening and face dropping out of favour with modern consumers.

Instant gratification shapes experiences that consumers want

One of the main behavioural changes that have impacted the consumer-brand relationship since the pandemic has been the growing consumer desire for instant gratification. Instant gratification can be defined as the urge to satisfy a craving immediately, which was nurtured by the slow pace of life during the pandemic and the feeling as though many had lost time during this period.

As a result, consumers are seeking out faster and more convenient experiences in all aspects of their lives. From how they consume media and how they shop online to the speed at which they receive feedback, this cultural shift has impacted how manufacturers across all industries approach their production and delivery processes.

Ultimately, this new culture of urgency has shaped consumers’ demand for brand experiences. This can be seen in the meteoric rise of rapid grocery delivery companies like Gopuff, Getir, and Gorillas, as well as the general shift towards immediacy that we have seen across retail and social media in recent years.

Consumer trust is built on the platforms that they populate

In an increasingly polarised society, consumers want to interact and communicate with like-minded people. As such, it’s important that brands are present in those communities by creating consistent customer experiences within social media.

The easiest way is to ensure brands are speaking their consumers’ language and meeting them where they are. Social media provides the platform to not only rapidly respond to consumer queries but also join in dialogues that are important to them, establishing a trustworthy community.

The cultural shift consumers have experienced, where trust in traditional media is lost, means that consumers are placing more emphasis on everyone having a voice. Consumers would rather hear responses on a peer-to-peer level rather than receive a top-down institutional response – this ultimately shapes their preferred medium of interaction. For this reason, brands must embrace this change rather than run from it.

By responding to queries on social media openly rather than being rerouted through lengthy call centres, brands remove unnecessary friction and help consumers feel heard. Social media can provide seamless experiences from product discovery to consumer queries, which is a powerful tool for creating smooth customer journeys.

In addition, each social media platform plays a unique role in fulfilling the niche requirements of consumers. What’s interesting is that social media users want and expect different responses from brands across different platforms. For example, as mentioned above, up to half of Twitter users expect a brand to respond to their tweet within three hours, and those that fail to meet this expectation risk losing customers. On TikTok, consumers want brands to teach them something or show how their product can benefit them.

The nuance between different platforms lies in the purpose, language, and tone of voice of the content. Not only does this boost customer satisfaction, but it drives up retention rates as almost half of social media users are more likely to buy again and recommend a company to a friend if it provides them with a timely response.

Joining the inner circle wins consumers loyalty

The majority of social media marketers say that building an active online community is crucial to establishing a successful social media strategy in the current landscape. Supporting this notion, 66% of branded communities say that their digital audience has led to increased loyalty.

Brands need to join in with influencers, employee advocates, and consumers themselves to generate authentic connections and consumer-led content. Before doing so, It’s vital that brands live and breathe their consumers’ ecosystems to really grasp what’s being said. By researching and listening intently to conversations and dialogues put forward by their audience, brands can take on the emergence of new channels to ensure they are present where their consumers are engaging.

Managing consumer responses across social media channels is a daunting challenge for brands stepping into the digital space. Furthermore, not all brands have the time or resources to build such vibrant communities, but that’s why outsourcing niche tasks to experts will help brands satisfy the ever-moving goalposts of modern consumer preferences.

With consumers’ everyday life becoming increasingly hypersocial and immediate, brands must keep up with the race to win over their attention, engagement, and loyalty. Whether it’s responding in a quippy way to branded conversations or helping a disgruntled consumer with a query, social media is undoubtedly the place for brands to be. Placing efforts and resources into this space is the opportunity to show your entire audience and many potential others exactly why your brand is their number one fan – so what are you waiting for?

Sarah Robbins
Sarah Robbins has over 17 years of experience in sales operations, customer success, and strategy. As Vice President, Customer & Operations – International, Sarah enables companies to create world-class customer engagement for EMEA-based brands. Before Khoros, Sarah led the strategic planning and execution of the new Corporates go-to-market division across the UK and Europe for Thomson Reuters.

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