A shot in the arm for the economy: Customers to increase spending once vaccines have been rolled out, SAS research finds

However, one in two have switched providers during the pandemic, showing customer loyalty is diminishing

Customers are set to increase their spending once vaccines have been rolled out, according to research by SAS, the leader in analytics. When asked if they would increase their spending, nearly a fifth (17%) said they would, compared to just a tenth (10%) who said they would reduce spending once vaccines were available.

However, some businesses could miss out on this increased expenditure. Around half (51%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a brand after just one or two poor experiences. Customers are following through with this threat as well. While four-fifths (82%) feel that the customer experience has improved since the pandemic started, one in two (53%) have nevertheless switched providers during the pandemic.

Low prices and special discounts alone will not be enough to prevent customers from switching brands. While a fifth (21%) of people switched providers for lower prices and better discounts elsewhere, 15% switched to a provider offering a simpler and easier to use online experience. Meanwhile, a tenth (11%) switched for faster or more convenient delivery options and a further 11% changed providers due to a negative customer experience.

When asked to list their top three components of the customer experience, the research showed:

  • Under half (47%) of customers see low prices and special discounts as a top three priority.
  • Nearly half (49%) value convenience as a key component of the customer experience.
  • Two-fifths (42%) ranked companies that act fairly and responsibly as a top three priority.
  • More than half (53%) cited good customer service over lockdown/s as a key area of the customer experience.

In comparison to the previous consumer research SAS conducted in September 2020, the latest research shows price has less sway over customers, while other areas of the customer experience are rising in importance. In the space of half a year, price has decreased in importance from 54% to 47%, while other areas of the customer experience have risen in importance, on average, from 27% to 33%: a marked increase of 6%.

Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen customer attitudes and behaviours change significantly. Customers are demanding more from the customer experience than ever before with prices and discounts continuing to fall in importance compared to other factors. They will happily switch providers after one or two bad experiences and, with 48% of all customers now digital customers, it’s never been easier to switch providers.

“With this research, customers have laid down a challenge for businesses. Companies must now react and offer a more personalised service to their customers, ensuring that the customer experience they are offering is the best one available. This can be achieved by leveraging the power of advanced, cloud-based analytics, which will help businesses gain a deeper, more personal understanding of their customers. Organisations that don’t seize this opportunity will live to regret it as they watch their customers happily switch to those that do.”

To help businesses provide a more tailored customer experience, customers are now more willing to provide personal data to companies. Three in 10 (30%) customers said they are more likely to share personal data with businesses now than they were before the pandemic, compared to 17% who are less likely to. Just over a third of those people more likely to share their data specified that they would do this in return for an improved customer experience.

However, companies must also take into consideration that customers’ awareness of fraud has risen significantly during the pandemic. Three-fifths of people (62%) are now either more vigilant when it comes to fraud or have experienced it personally. In fact, 22% have personally experienced an increase in scam messages. The report argues that organisations, therefore, need advanced analytics to provide effective protection against fraud while still offering a seamless customer experience.

It is now clear that the pandemic will change customer behaviour permanently. Following the changes already outlined, only 28% will be reverting back to the same shopping habits as before the pandemic. More than half (58%) of all customers will not be returning to ‘normal’, with 26% of these saying that they will use even more online and digital apps than they do currently.

To find out more read the full EMEA findings in: Experience Disrupted: Is COVID-19 continuing to change customer behaviour?

Methodology

Research was conducted and statistics compiled for SAS by 3Gem. Consumers completed an online questionnaire in February 2021 across a number of markets (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) adding up to a global sample of 10,000 adults over the age of 18. 

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