• December 19, 2019

72 Percent of Consumers Will Switch Brands After One Bad Experience, Study Finds

Today's consumers are unforgiving when it comes to poor customer experience, with 72 percent saying thay are likely to switch companies after just one bad experience, The Northridge Group noted in its "State of Customer Service Experience 2019" report.

And then, 86 percent of them tell others about bad experiences they have with companies, and negative social media posts can quickly spiral out of control.

The research also found that consumers want an effortless path to resolve their product and service issues, but, at the same time, more than one-third of them still find it difficult to even establish contact with companies. By and large, consumers believe they have to work too hard to resolve their issues, as shown in the following results:

  • 60 percent experience difficulty navigating phone systems equipped with interactive voice response (IVR) systyems;
  • 68 percent experience long wait times to reach agents;
  • 64 percent experience difficulty using websites;
  • 57 percent frequently have to repeat themselves to customer service agents; and
  • 30 percent frequently speak with agents who aren't friendly or polite.

The reality is that just 53 percent of consumers can resolve their issues during their first contact. "Best practice is 85 percent, so there is still much room for improvement," says Pam Plyler, executive practice lead of customer experience at The Northridge Group.

Conversely, businesses are overly optimistic about the experience they are delivering, possibly because they aren’t adequately measuring customer effort. Feedback from business leaders indicates that, when measuring customer service effectiveness, only 25 percent even measure customer effort, the research found.

This comes despite the fact that advanced data analytics now makes it easy and efficient to measure customer effort compared to traditional surveys. "If you're not measuring it, you can't manage it,” says Daren Moore, president of The Northridge Group. "The measurement of customer effort is a crucial investment that promotes customer loyalty and prevents backlash.

And, when it comes to complex customer service issues, phone remains the fastest, easiest, and most preferred customer service channel. And while digital channels made gains in 2019, preference for email has decreased during the same timeframe.

"Phone and online chat are perceived to provide a one-on-one service experience," says Bryan Gillis, executive practice lead for quality solutions and customer analytics at The Northridge Group. "Consumers have the highest expectations for resolution and speed of response from live-assisted channels. Simple issues are often resolved on company websites, but more complex situations require the human touch."

Given that these interactions are more complex, it is critical that the level of quality, engagement, and personalization provided meets or exceeds customer expectations, researchers concluded.

The study also uncovered a significant discrepancy between how business leaders and consumers view investment priorities. While businesses are prioritizing investments that differentiate their brands, consumers would prefer that they focus on the basics, including the following:

  • Making customer service available 24/7;
  • Reduction of wait times for customer service calls; and
  • Improvement of telephone menus to make it easier to get to the right customer service reps faster.
There is a high degree of customer effort needed to resolve customer service issues. (Graphic: Business Wire)

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