With the high street reporting negative sales for the first time in more than two years, it’s clear that retailers are continuing to face a challenging and competitive environment.
Yet at a time when positive and personalized experiences are more critical than ever, new findings reveal many retailers are not meeting the mark, with over two-thirds (69%) of consumers reporting that they receive irrelevant messages from brands and 41% saying they do not feel valued when it comes to the service offered.
The study, undertaken by CM.com, highlights that consumers are frustrated with the personalization approach taken by retailers, with almost half (49%) citing that this is due to their inbox being bombarded, harming their perception of the brand’s overall service.
Almost a third (31%) are annoyed by brands communicating with them on channels they don’t want to use and conversely, nearly a quarter (22%) feel frustrated by the inability to contact brands through their preferred channels.
Over one in three (36%) UK shoppers become ‘extremely frustrated’ when companies use incorrect information in customer communication.
When it comes to data, nearly a third (30%) of respondents report privacy concerns in this area when it comes to personalization efforts on the part of UK retailers, while 63% don’t think purchase history is acceptable data for brands to draw on when providing a personalized customer experience.
In fact, just 31% of shoppers are comfortable with companies accessing their shopping behaviour.
For brands, understanding where work is needed to get consumers onside with a truly personalized customer experience is vital to enabling better relationships long-term.
Over half (57%) of respondents expect personalization most when they’ve purchased a product multiple times before, whereas for 48% it is when they’ve made the first product purchase.
Currently, 42% of UK shoppers feel that companies do not meet their expectations when it comes to personalization and over a third (39%) state that companies do not communicate with them in a way that makes them feel understood.
A similar proportion (45%) think that brands don’t have a good understanding of their needs or expectations.
James Matthews, UK & Ireland Country Manager at CM.com, comments: “Personalization as a business practice currently is not driving the value that brands would either hope or expect.
“Consumers want an experience that is tailored to them, which brands are failing to get right as it stands. Shoppers are clearly not convinced that the quid pro quo of data sharing for an enhanced experience is a worthwhile trade, and they are voicing those frustrations loud and clear.
“With poor personalization likely impacting the bottom line at a time when business revenues are already stretched, this should serve as a significant warning and a sign that change needs to happen.
“This doesn’t mean to say that personalization is a failure, but more that the current approaches being taken by some brands isn’t aligned with consumer expectations, especially in the era of significant advances in artificial intelligence which, amongst other things, provide the ability to offer tailored services to all.
“While it may seem like an uphill battle, there are opportunities for brands to demonstrate the positive impact that good personalization can have on the overall service.
“Chatbots and customer communications services are a clear area where personalization can improve the efficiency of the experience for the end user, which in turn can help to drive loyalty.
“Likewise, improved AI-powered chatbots can also provide superior customer guidance supporting human agents with offering a personalized service.
“With the right tools in place, retail brands can deliver truly personalized experience that isn’t invasive and provides shoppers with the right information, driving better relationships and repeat purchases.”