Telecom giants Avaya and BT Global Services published a study a little over a year ago entitled “The Autonomous Customer: Understanding the challenges of dealing with informed, demanding and networked customers.” While it’s primarily focused on customer service operations (e.g., call centers, eCommerce sites, et al), there are some results worth a moment or two of consideration for other enterprises.
The study defines the autonomous customer as “independent, well informed, more influenced by other consumers than by brands, and turning away from organizations as sources of trust and advice.” Of 1,000 on-line consumers interviewed:
- 78% use the Internet to conduct research before making purchase decisions
- 51% trust peer reviews more than vendor websites
- 59% prefer purchasing on-line to avoid sales pitches; those who seek assistance look for consultative support (a.k.a. subject matter expertise)
- 35% have Smartphones and use them to research and/or secure attractive deals while shopping
This data is more-or-less consistent with other surveys I’ve seen. But what should you DO with these insights? Here are 5 actions I’d put on my list:
- Make sure your website puts your organization’s best foot forward. Like it or not, it’s a store front through which customers “window shop.” If it’s not fresh and inviting, you can’t reasonably expect folks to enter and explore.
- Build web content around your prospects’/customers’ interests and needs. Think about the process through which they gather information, explore alternatives, and make informed decisions. Find a way to plug into their process in a meaningful way. While you’ll certainly include information about your organization and your products and services, the narrative needs to focus on what matters most to them.
- Encourage your employees to stay current on your website and those of your primary competitors. Folks are doing their homework before they walk into your shop or pick up the phone to speak with you. If you want to add value to the equation, you need to know at least as much as they do!
- Create a mobile version of your website. Strip out the nonessentials and re-tool the site for the smaller screen size. [Don’t make me wear “coke bottle” glasses to learn about when when I’m out and about!]
- Keep an ear to the social media ground. People may be talking about you and your competitors. When they talk, others listen. You need to hear and respond to their feedback. Better yet, find creative ways to harness the power of customers helping each other. Create a self-regulating users forum or set up a YouTube channel where folks contribute “how to” instructional videos or case studies.
Have you found a way to engage customers more fully with your website?