Brands failing to engage the post-Covid customer – Digitas

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Brands are increasingly selling products and services directly to consumers online, but many are offering poor service after the initial sale and are struggling to live up to expectations.

That’s according to a survey of 1,000 UK consumers commissioned by agency Digitas, which found that some 68% of respondents said that brands which sold to them directly did not understand or focus on their needs as customers. 

And 66% said the experience they received from brands failed to stand out in any way from other brands.

While there was often high customer satisfaction after the initial sale, this dropped off rapidly, especially when trying to resolve a problem, accessing rewards or upgrading services or products —with only 35% of respondents saying they felt rewarded from the relationship.

Digitas brands study

The findings of the Digitas study, The State of Customer Engagement Report, conducted in partnership with research agency The Nursery, make sobering reading for UK brand owners.

The study was commissioned after Digitas noted a sharp increase in digital direct selling over the past year, fuelled by the digital surge during the pandemic as people shopped from home. 

Meanwhile, the demise of third-party cookies has also added to the trend.

Marius Bartsch, Head of Customer Engagement at Digitas UK, said: “The acceleration of digital DTC offerings due to Covid-19 and the race for first-party data in light of the changes in cookie laws has put a focus on digital direct selling.

“However, brands need to understand that this direct relationship is a double-edged sword – you can communicate with customers more easily, but you must do it well, otherwise you will fall foul of what matters most.

“The question is: how can a brand deliver a direct selling experience that addresses the disconnect between what brands deliver and the things customers feel are important: delivering the brand promise and positive emotions? These are the big opportunities.”

The study shows that it is not just the customers that suffer from these poor experiences. Brands are failing to stand out from their rivals as they are all perceived as offering a similar approach to customer service. 

Brands would make greater headway and improve their market position by offering consistent benefits to customers and building a stronger connection with them over time.

All too often, brands speak about themselves without translating this message into a tangible customer benefit, the report says. 

Bartsch believes that there are huge opportunities for direct-to-consumer brands to boost their standing with customers and reap greater revenues by addressing the lack of joined-up customer service and offering a more consistent experience.