We’ve recently completed some independent consumer research into multi-channel with a representative sample of 500 online consumers in the US and 500 in the UK.

The theme of the results is the ‘Autonomous Customer’, a new trend in consumer behaviour which challenges the existing customer relationship strategies of both companies and public sector organisations. The Autonomous Customer is independent, well informed, more influenced by other consumers than by brands and turning away from organisations as sources of trust and advice. There are some key behavioural differences emerging:

  • Shopper swots – Of the 70% of all adults who are now online in the UK, 78% plan their purchases and carry out product research on the Internet before they interact or buy.
  • Internet self-service is no longer second rate – 58% of online consumers agreed that self-service is good because it puts them in control. 59% agreed with the statement I prefer purchasing online because no one tries to sell you anything.
  • Customers helping customers – Consumers are helping each other, some 37% of respondents contribute to online reviews like Trip Advisor, and 51% said they trust online customer forums more than an organisation’s website.
  • Turning away from brands and institutions – Some 46% of online consumers said that loyalty to companies is a thing of the past.
  • Super-charged by Smartphones – For the 35% plus of online consumers who have a Blackberry, iPhone or smartphone, the autonomous customer behaviors are multiplied. For example, 63% of smartphone users say they use online vouchers to get the best prices, compared to 43% of others.

Some 39% agree it would really add value if the offers of service and products organisations made to me were more relevant. So while autonomous customers are turning away from brands an institutions and towards each other, they are not closed to offfers and propositions from organisations. We completed the work for BT Global Services and Avaya. To find out more visit their websites.