One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer
Companies that embrace a "whole office" product strategy will break down organizational barriers and create compelling customer experiences, according to research on how consumers define brand loyalty in today's digital-first economy.
More than half of consumers – 54% – said they would stop using a brand after just one bad experience. The news is worse if your target market is millennials: 57% will abandon your brand, this according to the latest research from Propel Software. The C-Suite message? There's no room for error.
Propel Software recently conducted a U.S. consumer survey to understand how consumers define brand loyalty in today's market, and the news is mixed for product companies. Consumers are likely to remain loyal to brands that continue to meet their needs, but they are also fast to switch brands to find the products and experiences they want. As with most shifts in consumer behavior, this represents both an opportunity, and a threat, to product companies.
Dario Ambrosini is chief marketing officer at Propel Software, an SaaS provider dedicated to helping high-tech, medtech, and consumer goods companies build compelling and profitable products.
Dario is the host of the Platform Rules podcast and a contributor to Converged, where he covers how market trends and technology impact product companies and manufacturers.
"Running a successful product company today is daunting. We used to encounter a major supply chain disruption every three to four years, now it seems they pop up every three to four weeks. Amid all of the disruption – inflation, the great resignation, geopolitical instability, etc. – the consistent focus we should maintain is our relationship with the customer, who ultimately just wants a great product and experience. Companies with the right insight, collaboration, and engagement can overcome many of today's obstacles by creating the right products and compelling customer experiences. But, before they start, they need to understand the customer and what drives a purchase," said Ambrosini. Ambrosini shares the key takeaways of Propel's research on brand loyalty and changing behaviors of customer engagements.
Consumer Brand Expectations Leave Little Room for Error
It is hard to imagine that nearly 6 out of 10 millennials would stop using a brand after just one bad experience. Products need to create a total customer experience. It's not just about building the right product, it's about building a profitable product that is right for today's consumer, marketing it in the right channels, using compelling packaging, online product information that speaks to quality and regulatory compliance, and servicing that product appropriately. And, all this has to be done right – the first time.
When Propel probed further to uncover consumers' reasons for switching brands, we found 67% willing to switch if an initial experience with a new brand is a cut above – such as offering educational resources supporting the product purchase. While 24% said inconsistent or obsolete online product information was a main reason for abandonment.
This research demonstrates that brands need to have a direct line into market and consumer trends, and respond swiftly and appropriately if they want to stay relevant in the consumers' mind.
Consumer expectations are important, and it's imperative that product companies respond appropriately and quickly when those expectations change. To learn how companies are developing products for today's consumer, Propel surveyed senior executives across product design/development and sales/marketing teams.
Product Development Best Practices Lack Customer, Revenue & Market Focus
Product and sales/marketing team collaboration is ineffective at best. Seventy-five percent stated engineering and R&D teams don't effectively collaborate with sales and marketing. And 79% don't enable commercial teams with sufficient product knowledge.
Market knowledge is lacking or misaligned with product offerings. Seventy-six percent said product teams lack important market knowledge about where their products are sold. And 84% agreed their products are misaligned with market needs.
Profitability is not an integral part of product development efforts. Eighty percent don't know where to invest product development resources to have the greatest financial impact. And 82% don't know how profitable products are until late in the development process.
With market demands constantly changing, and consumers continuously expecting more from brands, companies need to be nimble enough to respond by creating profitable products that resonate with today's consumers. The good news is, some brands are. The bad news, not many. Two-thirds of respondents cited they expect brands to engage with them well after the sale, anticipate their needs, and rectify bad experiences quickly. Companies that get this right are on the fast track to gain, and retain, more customers than their slower competitors.
The Whole Office is Greater than the Sum of its Silos
Wonder how successful companies master the ability to effectively respond, and proactively adapt to market needs with the right products and experiences? They don't think of business operations in silos, there is no "front office" and "back office." There is a "whole office." An office where everyone contributes to product success – from the designer, to the customer support rep, and everyone in between. This whole office strategy ensures everyone works together for the common goal of creating successful, profitable products. A whole office environment includes:
Commercial (sales/marketing/support) and product (engineering/design/development) teams collaborating on successful product outcomes.
Complete visibility combined with company-wide processes that allow teams to work faster and smarter.
Quality, regulatory and sustainability processes are fully woven into products from design concept, to when it reaches the customer's hands, and beyond.
Product strategy efforts that prioritize revenue growth, higher margins and increased market share as the true measure of product success.
This whole office approach relies on insight, collaboration and engagement to remove data blind spots and spark enterprise collaboration, shortening product development cycles to build, market, and sell products.
Three Steps to Create Customer-Focused, Profitable Products
Insight: Optimize decision making with shared data insight across product and commercial teams. Engineering teams that understand market needs are able to better define products, efficiently evolve them over their lifetime, and quickly address quality issues as they arise. And, when both commercial and product teams leverage the same solution, decision making is faster and more insightful thanks to comprehensive business intelligence. The end result is accelerated revenue growth and increased market share.
Collaboration: Drive process efficiencies among all product stakeholders. Product teams, commercial teams, and external partners with the context and connections needed to optimize for successful outcomes can collaborate without friction. The resulting efficiency and responsiveness help companies make the best decisions and quickly respond to changes, which in turn generates greater customer satisfaction and builds business resilience.
Engagement: Early exposure to product attributes ensures products are in market faster – with a compelling value proposition. Post-sale engagement sustains the relationship. With customers nearly 70% likely to leave existing brands after a positive experience with a competing brand, wouldn't you want to be that new, alternative brand? Market engagement ensures sales and marketing teams are getting product information early so they can design and highlight product attributes and customer benefits through accurate packaging information, enhanced website copy, and many other ways that consumers might be engaging with the product pre-sale. In addition, post-sale market engagement – a pillar of sustainable subscription models – can be just as important and possibly more powerful, in building long-term customer relationships. Product managers need visibility into product usage and gaps so they can evolve the offering and ensure customers are getting value for their recurring payments.
The research from Propel highlights the importance of data and shared insights across the entire business. "Sharing vital data and business insights across your organization will drive profitability, shore up supply chains, increase shareholder value and ultimately deliver enhanced customer experiences – while meeting corporate financial, regulatory, and sustainability goals. Companies that embrace a whole office product strategy will break down organizational barriers and create compelling customer experiences. Those that don't, will continue to fight a losing battle against tomorrow's disruptions," said Ambrosini.