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Survey: mobile, social essential to shopping

Empathica Inc., a global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, announced the latest results of its Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers. The findings show that mobile and social customer experience strategies are becoming more important than ever for brands, with retail and restaurant consumers using these channels to make decisions — even while in-store.

Survey results also revealed that the use of mobile technology has become commonplace during shopping and dining experiences. At least half of consumers with smartphones have looked for reviews about a retailer during a visit — as well as 10 percent of consumers who don't even own a smartphone.

Price comparisons continue to be the most frequent in-store mobile action with 55 percent of smartphone owners reporting that they have used their devices to check prices while shopping. Other popular mobile actions include scanning a QR code (34 percent) and writing a review (9 percent).

"Today's consumers routinely perform a variety of in-store activities on smartphones and mobile devices," said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. "Whether it's comparing prices or scanning a QR code for a discount, brands that ignore the use of mobile technology in customer and guest experiences will miss key opportunities to connect with a large pool of potential brand advocates."

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also showed that consumers are relying on social media as an important tool in decision-making. Nearly three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation.

For retailers that post all user-generated content online, negative reviews don't necessarily dissuade consumers from trying a brand, especially if it has a generally positive online presence. Only 26 percent of consumers indicated that they would definitely avoid shopping at a store if they first read a negative online review.

"One of the key takeaways from our latest research is that brands need to proactively engage with their customers transparently through mobile and social channels — and even encourage negative reviews to be made public," said Edwards. "The credibility brands gain from publishing all reviews far exceeds the amount of damage that can be inflicted by the occasional negative comment. Negative user reviews is not necessarily a brand destroyer."

Other findings that reveal the complex relationships consumers have with retail brands include:

  • More than a third of survey respondents (37 percent) have visited a brand's webpage using a mobile phone.
  • Although 55 percent of consumers are willing to "like" brands on Facebook, women (64 percent) tend to use the "like" button more than men (47 percent).
  • Approximately 89 percent of people who have shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months also "liked" a brand on Facebook; only 36 percent of those who have not shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months "liked" a brand on Facebook.
  • Eighty-two percent of consumers are willing to engage retail and restaurant brands in online conversations if they believe it will improve future experiences, but only 62 percent believe that brands monitor online conversations and just 30 percent think that brands act on customer feedback.

(Photo by Kartik Malik.)

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