• June 18, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Consumers Are More Demanding, Which Is an Opportunity for CX to Shine, CX Connect Keynoter Says

With a very high percentage of consumers willing to switch brands after a bad customer service experience, companies have a real opportunity to make customer service a differentiator, officials from Kustomer said during the keynote that opened day three of the virtual CX Connect conference.

Kustomer unveiled research which found that 90 percent of consumers today would stop buying from a company after just one bad experience, which was up from 78 percent in a 2019 study.

Additionally, 67 percent of consumers said they would abandon a purchase because of a bad experience during that transaction, according to the research.

Conversely, 93 percent of consumers today said they would recommend a company to a friend or family member after a good customer service experience. "A good customer experience can be the difference between a lifelong customer and a lost customer," said Andrea Paul, research director at Kustomer. "Good CX can act as a marketing tool for businesses."

At the same time, though, only 51 percent of consumers said they would complain directly to the retailer after a bad experience, which means that nearly half of all bad experiences may go unnoticed, Paul said.

And 82 percent of consumers said they’ve had a bad experience in the past year.

So what are some of their biggest complaints? The research found the following:

  • 87 percent of consumers get frustrated when they can’t reach customer service on their preferred channel;
  • 85 percent get frustrated when they have to switch channels to get their issues resolved;
  • 84 percent get frustrated when they have to repeat information when their interaction moves to another agent;
  • 42 percent think companies don’t sufficiently value their time.

The research also found that younger consumers are less likely to abandon a company after a bad experience, while heads of household, typically in the 35-54 age group, were more likely to switch companies.

The head-of-household cohort has higher expectations when it comes to customer service today, while younger consumers have lower expectations and are more forgiving of bad experiences, according to Paul.

Those same younger consumers are less likely to reach out to companies when things go wrong, she added.

And things are certainly likely to go wrong more often as consumers take more of their purchases online. Eighty-five percent of consumers plan to continue shopping online more frequently in the post-COVID-19 era, according to the research. Seventy-one percent of consumers shopped online more frequently this year than they did last year.

With that, there are going to be more online inquiries, and companies must prepare for that, Paul said.

But it is important for companies to know that "the shift to digital doesn’t mean a shift to impersonal," Paul said. Customers, she said, still want empathy, personalization, and speed.

All demographics and ages will move more to digital, and companies need to be ready for that, agreed Gabe Larsen, vice president of marketing at Kustomer.

But that doesn’t mean that the phone is going away right now. Among consumers as a whole, phone is still the most popular channel for reaching out to customer service. Younger consumers, though, are more often turning to other digital channels, like email, text, chat, and social media. As a result, as these younger consumers age, it will be more important for companies to invest in chatbots and other digital channels, Paul said.

These same younger consumers are also more likely to pay more for good customer service. Among those under 25 years of age, 77 percent would pay more, compared to just 62 percent of consumers across all ages and demographics, according to the research.

Consumer expectations for customer service are also changing. Customers today expect agents to take on more of a role as product expert, able to assist with technical support and product recommendations, for example.

Because of that, it is important for companies to equip agents with product knowledge or the means of getting customers to product specialists more quickly, Paul said.

Additionally, 84 percent of consumers today expect companies to be more proactive with customer service issues, up from 82 percent in 2019; 82 percent expect to be treated the same whether their transaction occurs online or in person; and 83 percent believe they should be treated better for being loyal customers, up from 73 percent in 2019, the research found.

"Companies really do need to adopt technologies that allow [agents] to see customer transaction histories," Paul said.

Paul said customer expectations today are "insanely high," but noted that companies can deliver. To do so, they will need to automate, investing in technologies that tap into artificial intelligence to make agents more efficient. It's also important for them to personalize, so they need to spend on tools that allow them to see customer histories, issues, and behaviors "in context to bring in that human element."

Companies will also need to spend more on their ability to track metrics like customer satisfaction, Net Promote Score, and customer effort, she said.

The good news is that CRM vendors are responding, Larsen said. "Consumers want something different now, so we are seeing rapid innovation in the CK space," he said. "The market is growing, and it's growing fast."

See more full session videos from CX Connect 2021 on the CRM YouTube channel.

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