8 April 2022
By Elaine Murphy
A survey conducted by TELUS International, a digital customer experience (CX) innovator – with a Cork office in Mahon – found that all generations of European respondents are likely to be influenced by social media ads when contemplating a purchase (56% of Baby Boomers, 71% of Gen X, 82% of Millennials and 79% of Gen Z). In Ireland, all generations look to social media ads before making a purchase (61% of Baby Boomers, 75% of Gen X, 76% of Millennials and 62% of Gen Z).
The survey, which polled 2,000 consumers across Ireland, the UK, Germany and France about their expectations before, during and after a purchase, revealed what each generation finds most important to have a successful customer experience.
Social Media and Reviews Lead the Way for Consumers in Ireland and Europe on Brand Awareness and Product Research
In addition to the strong influence social media has over purchasing decisions, the survey also found that 83% of respondents consult online reviews before making a purchase. This was the case for 81% of Irish consumers overall. Additionally, positive reviews are clearly influential to 83% of respondents in Ireland overall: Millennials’ (84%) and Gen X’s (88%) purchasing decisions as they are to Gen Z’s (75%) and Baby Boomers’ (86%).
In the past year, 81% of Gen Z respondents in Europe (73% of respondents in Ireland), have made at least one purchase stemming from a social media ad, with 13% making at least six (16% in Ireland). Even though Baby Boomers were least likely of the generations to have made a purchase from a social media ad in the past year, half (51%) still did.
“Because of the meteoric rise of online shopping and time spent on social media, brands must think digital when it comes to designing their overall approach to the customer experience,” said Maria Pardee, chief commercial officer at TELUS International. “Social media has become a critical space for brands to positively influence buying decisions across all generations. These survey results demonstrate the value that brands can derive from dedicating resources to moderating user-generated content on their sites such as product reviews, questions, complaints and comments, to make a great first impression. They also show the tremendous upside to optimising social media ads to ensure consumers are seeing products and content most relevant to them.”
Automation and Annotation Drive Purchases
The majority of survey respondents (81% of all respondents, 79% of respondents in Ireland) across all age groups expect at least part of their customer journey to be automated versus having to interact with a human. Respondents in France (54%), Germany (51%) and Ireland (44%) indicated that real-time help powered by AI has the most positive impact on how they view a brand and is most likely to grow their loyalty. Those in the U.K. (49%) cited an understanding of what they are feeling (e.g. dissatisfaction, frustration) to troubleshoot and direct them to the right resource. Across the countries surveyed, Millennials are also serious about automation as 72% are likely to remain loyal to a brand and 70% are likely to recommend a brand if it uses AI to improve their customer experience.
Roger Clancy, VP Operations and General Manager, TELUS International Ireland, which employs more than 2,200 people across its sites in Cork, Dublin and Mayo said, “We are delighted to be part of this European consumer research. The results provide key insights on consumer preferences. AI is a vital tool for CX companies to free up the time of customer support agents to focus on complex enquiries and to create lasting connections with customers.”
He continued: “It is vital that brands ensure an excellent customer experience (CX) at every touchpoint along the customer journey. At TELUS International in Ireland we are focused on supporting the best customer experiences as a global innovator in this space.”
Brand Loyalty and Advocacy After the Sale
Once consumers make that all-important first purchase, brands still have critical work to do in order to ensure they will buy from them again and become brand advocates. Good customer service following a purchase (such as short wait times and easy exchange/return processes), is most likely to lead to future purchases, according to 87% of all respondents.
The top way that respondents from the U.K. (67%), Ireland (58%) and France (85%) show their loyalty to a brand is by making additional purchases. Those in Germany (69%), however, prefer to show loyalty by recommending the brand or product to friends and family. Further, 75% of all consumers surveyed are likely to leave a review, post on social media, or create some other form of user-generated content if they have a positive customer experience.
Beyond providing a great customer experience, brands can generate further loyalty by supporting community causes, offering environmentally friendly products, and having strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. Having these types of programs in place are most likely to influence the brand loyalty of 53% of Irish consumers across generations.
“By knowing what each generation expects from a positive customer experience, brands can more accurately tailor their strategy and approach, incorporating the right balance of social media, automated solutions, AI-powered services and human agents to meet their particular demographic’s expectations,” added Pardee. “Rather than making assumptions, such as only younger buyers are influenced by and prefer to use digital channels, savvy brands will be better equipped to serve consumers of all generations. There was one universal truth; however, that our survey revealed: brands will have a much easier time winning back customers due to a lacklustre product than if they have a bad customer experience. To create loyal customers and brand advocates, they have to get the customer experience right the first time around.”
TELUS International provides integrated customer experiences across the globe by analysing consumer behaviour in order to prioritise evolving customer demands and meet changing market dynamics. The company’s human-centred, data-driven digital experiences deliver consistent and personalised customer journeys across all channels — digital and human — to enhance brand loyalty.