Smart Communications has announced the results of a global survey that uncovers consumer and business leader opinions about the current state of conversations between customers and financial services, insurance and healthcare companies. The report reveals the increasing importance of delivering personalized, omnichannel conversations to build trust and brand loyalty with customers.

“Our new study clearly reveals that consumer interest in digital interactions continues to grow,” said James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications. “To meet this important trend, companies must evolve their strategies to exceed customer expectations through two-way, digital-first conversations that honor preferences and provide an exceptional end-to-end experience. Not only will this lead to an enhanced customer journey but it will also have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.”

“To earn consumer trust, companies need to provide an exceptional end-to-end experience that is based on the customer’s terms and their preferences. Not only will this lead to an enhanced customer journey and competitive differentiation, but it will also have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.”

Key findings from the new research report, The State of Customer Conversations, include:
  • Consumers’ increasing expectations are outpacing business’ ability to meet them. The survey reveals that 81% of global consumers believe communications are important to their overall experience with a company. And while 66% of business leaders feel the communications they are sending to customers are very good or excellent, only 58% of consumers agree. Missing the mark on customer communications poses a significant risk to businesses as the report reveals that more than half of customers stated they would likely switch away from a company if their communications did not meet their expectations.
  • Getting channel preferences right can make or break the customer experience. Customers are increasingly becoming more comfortable engaging with enterprises across a variety of digital channels—with 80% preferring email and 50% are comfortable with text messages. However, businesses say that just over half (54%) of communications are distributed based on consumers’ channel preference. If not tailored to their individual needs, 61% of consumers indicated that information being provided through the wrong channel leads to frustration.
  • Consumers are clear on the importance of trust – and what matters most to them. There is a significant opportunity for businesses to deliver communications that meet customers’ expectations, which in turn will help build and nurture trust. The majority of consumers indicated that ease of contacting the company (82%), proactive communications (69%) and transparency (79%) are important in encouraging trust. The report also states that while most businesses across financial services, insurance and healthcare believe they leveraged communications to build trust throughout the pandemic, only a small percentage of consumers indicated that communications made them trust companies more.
  • While consumers overwhelmingly prefer digital, business’ cloud adoption lags. In the survey, consumers said that factors leading them to prefer digital include ease of use (59%), timeliness (40%) and sustainability (32%). The good news is 76% of business leaders indicated they have at least some digital practices in place. To meet the rapidly evolving digital communication demands by customers, enterprises should consider agile strategies that only pure cloud solutions can deliver. And they are. Enterprises across all industries surveyed are planning to increase their use of cloud solutions, with 54% indicating over half of their systems will be cloud-based within the next 12 months.
“Digital transformation can be a daunting process, but companies must think beyond traditional, print-centric customer communications and start thinking about improving the customer experience, as the benefits are tremendous,” added Brown. “Those that adopt cloud-based solutions to help address these challenges will find there are ways to move through the migration process without missing important customer interactions and will ensure their strategic approach is scalable and future-proof.”

For more survey results and to obtain actionable insights for having smarter customer conversations, download the complete study here.

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