Consumer confidence remains low as companies look to provide a human touch

Consumer confidence remains flat in Q2 amid continued economic uncertainty, according to the Deloitte Consumer Tracker Survey, released today. It has been revealed that the UK consumer confidence index is -8 per cent; down four percentage from this time last year. Customer experience expectations, however, show no signs of slowing, with over half of UK consumers feeling more loyal towards brands that show a deeper understanding of their preferences and priorities[1]. This means that now more than ever, businesses will be focussing on providing a seamless digital customer experience, optimising customer engagement.

While technologies like AI and automation will be critical for businesses to remain competitive in these times of such low consumer confidence, it is important not to overlook the importance of in-person human interaction. Retailers with omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89 per cent of their customers, according to Teleperformance DIBS, and any businesses failing to focus directly on customer experience will struggle with customer retention.

Rajnish Sharma, Retail SME and U.K Market Leader, at Teleperformance Digital Integrated Business Services, comments: “With people so worried about their personal finances in the increasing economic uncertainty, it will take a lot more than just a good product or service to persuade the average consumer to hand over their cash.  Consumers are looking for frictionless, hassle-free and personalised customer experiences. In fact, in the next year the customer experience will be more important than product and price.[2] To remain competitive in these times of economic uncertainty, businesses need to be available to provide round-the-clock, real-time service – at the consumer’s convenience. While AI bots are widely being introduced to improve engagement and streamline communication, it’s important to note that human interactions are not just cognitive, but social and emotional.”

Rajnish continues: “Regardless of whether the consumer is interacting with a brand from behind a screen, over the phone or in-person, they want their issue or query solved as quickly as possible. 96 per cent of customers who have to expend a high level of effort to get their issues resolved become more disloyal, compared to just 9 per cent who have a low-effort experience, according to Gartner.[3]

“AI-powered chat bots act as an enabler for customer service teams and companies need to ensure they do not underestimate the emotional intelligence which only comes from human agents. While confidence in the economy remains low and the rate of spending growth slows down, it’s the businesses that recognise the human nuance that will be the ones that stay afloat in the UK’s extremely competitive marketplace.”