General election results 2017; why customer experience is more important than ever

With the country gripped by another period of political uncertainty, Liz Boffey explores the very latest agile consumer confidence results and uncovers what’s in store for UK brands.

 

Back in March this year, we gathered consumer opinion in the moments immediately after the triggering of Article 50. At the time, we found consumer confidence wavering, with spending across all markets likely to drop whilst the British public waited the negotiations out.

Now, as the country enters another potential period of political uncertainty, we’ve re-visited the survey and used the same technology to test the mood after the latest general election results.

With still limited clarity over the Brexit process and access to markets, competing on price alone over the coming months will be challenging for even the biggest brands. With the cost of products and services likely to be influenced as negotiations starts, short and long-term strategies must focus on service, experience and building loyalty.

Businesses will be relying on their customer more than ever before.

Spending will drop

Almost half (48%) of those surveyed said that they plan to cut back on their normal spending habits in the next six months – a figure that was echoed in previous results from earlier this year.

However, perhaps the biggest impact the latest election results have had on consumer opinion is the confidence in the UK economy as a whole. Just one-quarter (26%) of the British public now agree that the general economic situation in the UK is positive – a fall of 30% since the end of March.

It all signals a potentially trying and challenging time ahead for brands and business.

Which sectors will be hit hardest?

Following on from the same trend detected two months ago, non-essential items – such as clothing, holidays, electrical goods and leisure and dining actives – will likely see the biggest fall in consumer spending over the next six months.

However, big-ticket items are likely to feel the hit even harder following the latest round of polls, with even further spending cuts expected across the travel, automotive and leisure markets.

Just one-quarter (26%) of the British public now agree that the general economic situation in the UK is positive – a fall of 30% since in March.

Yet again, almost all of those surveyed believe that costs across all industries will increase while we wait for answers on not only Brexit but also government headline policies.

However, an increasing number of consumers now expect prices to soar even higher for the travel and leisure industries, as well as electricals and white goods. 39% of consumers believe that holidays and travel will become a lot more expensive, while an additional third (31%) see holidays becoming a little more expensive.

Customer experience is the one remedy

The following months undoubtedly mark an uncertain time for Britain – not only is consumer confidence falling, but business confidence too with 57% of businesses concerned about the coming months according to the Institute of Directors.

But this unforeseen new political landscape needn’t spell doom and gloom for brands.

Board sponsorship is one of the big challenges facing customer experience professionals across organisations – our experience of listening to clients for twenty years tells us that while strategies often talk of great experiences, finances can ultimately come first.

But successful brands will see these coming months as an opportunity.

An on-going squeeze on the nation’s finances has put customer experience centre stage – no longer able to compete on price alone, they need to fulfil their service strategies and experience promises.

They need fantastic, action-based insight to focus strategic decision making and drive businesses forward into the rest of 2017.

By listening to customers and truly understanding their wants and needs, brands can better deliver on their expectations. And when coupled properly with commercial data, professionals can take the right decisions for both the customer and the business a whole.

Customer Experience and financial results are intrinsically linked and the brands that recognise this first will ultimately succeed in an unpredictable 2017.

 

Results shown are taken from Maru/edr’s real-time poll of 200 British consumers completed in the moments after the general election result 2017. These results demonstrate a snapshot of current consumer thinking.

 

Liz Boffey is Managing Direction at Maru/edr with a wealth of client-side insight experience. Continue the debate with Liz by contacting her directly on liz.boffey@maruedr.com or connect on LinkedIn.

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