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Monday, 19 October 2015 14:08

Aussies like ‘personalised’ service, but wary of how personal data used

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Aussies like ‘personalised’ service, but wary of how personal data used Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

Australian consumers appreciate it when retailers personalise their service to them, but like their counterparts around the world they are suspicious of how their personal data is used by the retailers.

According to a study commissioned by data intelligence solutions firm Verint Systems, just over half – 51% - of Australian consumers appreciate it when service is personalised to them, but 49% are suspicious of how their data is used.

In addition, Aussie consumers say they do want companies to know their mood and respond accordingly (18%), but 82% are more concerned about getting answers to their questions.

Globally, the research conducted by Ovum and UK-based research company Opinium, found that while almost nine in 10 respondents (89%) agreed good service makes them feel more positive about the brands they engage with, nearly half (48%) also said they are suspicious about how their data is used.

Also globally, only one-fifth of respondents said they wanted companies to understand their mood and cater to them accordingly, but 43% admitted that when companies make mistakes, they are more forgiving to those they believe understand them.

Other key findings from Australian respondents include:

•    Nearly three in five (59%) are more likely to tell friends and family if they receive good customer service, while almost one-third (30%) will leave a positive review, and 27% will sign up to a business’s loyalty program

•    When asked about the top drivers of loyalty, one in five (21%) of Australian respondents cited when they feel companies consistently show they understand their needs as an individual. This is in addition to the 20% who said loyalty comes down to loving a company’s products or services. Interestingly, just 18% said their decision is based on a company offering low prices

•    The survey found 58% regard customer service as a transaction, while 42% said the service should reflect them as a person.

“This study is a wake-up call for brands looking to revamp their customer service to cater to today’s more demanding and better-informed customers,” says Jeremy Cox, principal analyst, customer engagement, Ovum.

“While brands have the ability to precision-target highly personalised communications for every single customer, the study shows what people around the world actually value most are the basics—questions answered with minimal effort on their part.”


Cox also cautions “Brands, therefore, have a fine balance to strike between the customised and impersonal service they deliver. Customers expect to be recognised, but will have adverse reactions if they feel stalked.”


Cox said the study also explored the factors that cause customers to switch between service providers. Among Australian respondents, 33% nominated finding a cheaper alternative, while 19% said too many mistakes or impolite staff would cause them move on.


The study also found that globally, when it comes to banks, customer service clearly plays a more important role with a quarter (23%) of those surveyed saying too many mistakes could cause them to shift. For retail stores, the key factor for changing is impolite, rude or disinterested staff (27%).


“The new rule book of customer service has less to do with personalisation at all costs, and everything to do with making life easier for people,” said Michael Stelzer, vice president, Australia and New Zealand for Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions.

“On the whole, consumers do not have a lot of patience with firms that don’t get the basics right. This is a challenge for providers and an opportunity to help ensure frontline staff have information at their fingertips to deliver a quick and seamless service relevant to each customer’s individual needs. Staff should be empowered to make decisions and ‘go the extra mile’.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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