Whether we realize it yet or not – the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the landscape of consumer shopping behaviors. As brick-and-mortar stores adapted their practices for social distancing, consumers settled into a “new normal” of in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and home delivery.
Consumers seem to enjoy the convenience of grab-and-go services as well: 58% of people we surveyed said they’d utilize these services post-pandemic as their preferred shopping method*. That’s all fine and dandy – until something goes wrong. A number of things could go awry with pickup, from missing items to long wait times. When customer service is necessary, we’ve found that consumers favor personal interaction to solve their issues in any industry; for retail, 76% of our survey respondents said it’s essential.
When you take away the personal interaction that in-store customer service brings, there’s an apparent disconnect between brands and consumers that needs to be addressed. Our survey revealed that outside of visiting a physical store, 59% of consumers said they consider a phone call the most personal form of interaction – over four times that of any other communication. Without traditional face-to-face conversation, the phone call becomes the overwhelming choice when discussing any order with a retail business.
Of course, this becomes even more urgent as the order price tag rises. For orders of $500+, consumers are more than twice as likely to insist on a phone call. With high-dollar items like exercise equipment and electric cars now being ordered exclusively online, many businesses could benefit from utilizing a phone call to interact with their customers. A phone call is just the start of brand perception, though: when branded and identified, consumers are more likely to perceive that brand as premium.
Branded calling is a newer innovation in the mobile technology space, but the advantages are already visible: First Orion retail clients have seen their answer rates increase by over 90%. But it’s not just about answer rates in the retail space; it’s about how customers perceive the brand as a whole. An unidentified call from a retailer can set off an ominous tone with consumers; 82% of respondents said they assume an unknown number is an illegitimate business.
An unknown number doesn’t just cost businesses an opportunity to interact with their customers – it can cost them business with that person altogether. 63% of consumers said they’d take their business to a different retailer that offered a branded or identified call. For those companies selling high-value items, a branded call could be the very key to positive brand perception and customer loyalty.
“The shift in consumers’ shopping preferences presents an opportunity for retailers to enhance their customer experience and brand loyalty,” said Viki Zabala, chief marketing officer at First Orion. “Brands need to consider how every channel they use to communicate with customers impacts them. Our data shows that by remaining anonymous through a ten-digit phone number, consumers are more likely to perceive a retail company and its brand negatively. By not clearly identifying themselves when calling, retail businesses are missing out on an opportunity to gain trust and connect with consumers before they even answer their phone.”
So is branded calling the new standard in business reputation management? At First Orion, we believe so. Not only does it reinforce that brand awareness in consumers’ minds, but it also gives them a sense of security when answering calls. When businesses take responsibility for protecting their customers, they preserve their brand reputation as well. If you’d like more information on branded calling, our branded calling ebook is a crash course in what it is, how it works, and how it’s helping businesses across the globe. Or, if you’re ready to get on board – let’s chat.
*First Orion, a leading provider of communication transparency solutions, conducted a blind survey of mobile phone users in the United States to identify how consumers currently interact with retailers, including customer service preferences and pain points.