Do I know who I'm doing business with? consumers ask


A broad swath of research has been released over the past month or so assessing the impact the recession has had on how consumers are behaving and how their focus has shifted.

The big picture that develops is of the retrenching consumer: being smart about what they spend, waiting to buy things they don’t need and looking for deals where they can find them. This retrenching consumer is becoming a more optimistic consumer: as they feel like they are getting more control, they increasingly believe that the economy is find a path out of its downturn.

Look more closely at consumer responses, and a finer picture of their focus develops. “I want to know who I’m doing business with and I want to feel good about it,” the consumer is saying.

I think there are two things going on: in a tough time, each of us wants to feel a connection to the people around us, even when we are buying things. And all of us believe that if we have some kind of human connection in a transaction, the seller will have a higher commitment to making sure that we are satisfied. That shows up in the way that they value customer service and trust.

Looking at your own company and the way that it presents itself to the market, ask: Do we have a personality? Does it connect with our people? And are our people facing the consumer in an open and accessible way?

That’s what the consumer is looking for.

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Customer service also appears to be playing a larger role in the current economy. According to the study, more than 80% of respondents want companies to show a human face. Going beyond price, a majority of consumers report that top-notch customer service (67%) and trust in a company (58%) factor into their purchase decisions, while fewer consumers emphasize the importance of a company’s commitment to making a difference (38%).
Research also revealed that consumers are increasingly interested in researching brands, and sharing opinions and information online. Some 78% of respondents think the internet is a very important part of the shopping experience, even when purchases are not made online.
ncreasingly skeptical consumers also believe that real value is something they need to discover themselves, with 70% of respondents report being “consumed” with getting the best value for their purchases, the study found.