As many businesses begin prepping for a full reopening in June, the research from Yext shows the true impact the pandemic has had on customer engagement, with 45% of businesses saying the pandemic has had a negative impact on their ability to communicate with customers. With shops seeing almost 30% fewer customers than pre pandemic levels, and online continuing to dominate, brands that fail to get this right could see a devastating impact on their ability to reopen effectively.
Top findings of the research also include:
• One-in-ten businesses admit to having a lack of confidence in being able to quickly communicate accurate information to customers online
• Only 12% view search engines listings as a top communication channel, despite search engines being the go-to research channel for global internet users
• 30% of businesses realise that they need to expand the number of channels used to communicate with customers
“While the pandemic has been disastrous for pretty much every business around the world, the ability to engage with brands online has been a key go to for customers looking to bridge that gap between face to face interaction in brick and mortar stores” said Jon Buss, Managing Director, EMEA at Yext.
“So it makes for uneasy reading when you see that UK businesses are struggling in their ability to communicate effectively with customers, and spells for disaster when you look at their ability to reopen effectively and get back to business. With reopening on the cards for the majority of businesses, now is the time to seize the opportunity and jumpstart their post-pandemic recovery, with quick and accurate customer engagement.”
This lack of confidence by businesses can be seen even clearer when you consider the fact that when asked to name the top two most important communication channels used by their company today, the majority (85%) of respondents chose their website. Only half selected ‘social’, and as few as 12% selected ‘search engine listings’ as a top two channel.
A worrying statistic considering the omnichannel approach to brand engagement that customers use and value today. And even more worrying when considering the fact that the go-to research channel for global internet users is search engines.
The good news though is that many businesses are recognising the need to diversify their communication platforms and improve engagement. When provided with the chance to make one change in the way their company communicates critical information, ‘expand the number of channels’ was the top response (30%) from respondents of Yext’s research. With the second most important option being able to ‘instantly update our site and mobile app with new information’.
Customers are currently digesting a lot of information around COVID safe social distancing practices, designated entrances and exits, and changes to opening times, so it is imperative that businesses are looking at tools to easily communicate information with customers online.
One business that’s put multi-channel digital at the forefront of their communication with customers is The Langham Hotels, who’s been partnering with Yext to boost discoverability and the customer search experience during the pandemic.
“Our customers always start their journey with research and looking for answers to questions related to their trip. We want to make sure that we deliver those answers at every step of that journey, building customer trust and enhancing their experience with the hotel” said Kasia Rudnik, Director of eCommerce at The Langham, London.
“The pandemic has again shown us how important it is to deliver accurate information about our hotels and restaurants and being able to communicate any changes to our customers is one of our priorities. The Yext platform allows us to manage updates easily, ensuring the best experience for our customers.”
For companies looking for similar benefits, Yext has launched a #Back2Biz programme that will help qualified businesses reopen and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.
Research conducted by Econsultancy between 20-27th April, 2021. Econsultancy surveyed 200 respondents working for UK organisations with physical stores, serving customers face-to-face, with marketing as part of their role, either working as an employee or in a management position.