There have been a lot of challenges for retails brands in the past year — from considering the viability of brick-and-mortar stores to navigating crippling supply chain delays. While these are real concerns, I believe one of the biggest challenges brands have faced is how they meet the increasing and evolving demands of customers. Delivering the best customer experience (CX) possible can be the difference between surviving and closing for good — but what most brands forget is that those CX efforts must extend to every type of customer, including the ones they’ve never considered before.
More customers than ever are facing vulnerability — from financial hardship and illness to those who struggle with navigating digital technology. Recent research found that 24 million people in the UK displayed one or more characteristics of vulnerability, and while the findings were limited to a specific region, it’s not hard to imagine the proliferation of customer vulnerability globally.
Moreover, vulnerable customers are not always transparent about their personal circumstances or financial challenges, so it’s often up to customer service agents to identify these scenarios. Take, for example, an elderly customer who is struggling to use a website to purchase daily essentials, like food, and needs help scheduling a delivery time. Being able to identify that vulnerability when they call for support could change how the customer service agents handles that conversation.
With more than half of customers saying they’ll stay loyal to a brand because of positive customer service, the brands that aren’t actively working to understand and address customer vulnerability are missing a critical opportunity to connect with consumers and drive long-term loyalty.