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Omnichannel Retail

Customer service beats omnichannel perfection, CMO Council study reveals

Almost half of North American and European consumers surveyed by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in partnership with SAP Hybris, say they will abandon a brand and take their money elsewhere if they continuously encounter a poor, impersonal or frustrating customer experience across channels of engagement.

The study is based on findings from an online survey of more than 2,000 consumers in early 2017. The audience was made up of 50% male and 50% female respondents across the United States (50%), Canada (25%), and Europe (25%).

Figures reveal that today’s connected consumer is not looking for omnichannel perfection. In fact, consumers have a short list of critical channels they expect to have access to, including company website, email, a phone number to call and a knowledgeable salesperson to speak with as part of their customer journey.

When asked to outline the key aspects of an exceptional customer experience, 52% expected fast response times to needs, suggestions or issues, and 47% wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed. Less important were elements like always-on assisted service (8%), brand-developed social communities to connect consumers with other fans (9%), and access to multiple touchpoints as part of the customer journey.

Despite the appetite for a frictionless experience, many consumers face common frustrations while engaging with brands, chief among them being price increases on products while failing to see added value or improvements to the products in question.

The second most common frustration (36%) is when consumers are not treated like the loyal customers they are. The cost of continuing to frustrate consumers is brand abandonment as 47% say they will stop doing business with a brand.

While 32% of consumers would email the company to complain and 29% would tell all family and friends, the overwhelming reaction to frustration was to abandon the brand and spend their money elsewhere.

“Today, the differentiator isn’t whether we are able to individualize an experience, but rather having the insight and intelligence to know where, when and how a customer expects to be greeted with value and relevance,” explained Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at the CMO Council.

“Consumers don’t need personalization at every moment. But what this research amplifies is the requirement to get relevant, personalized experiences right for an audience of one in their micro-moment of need.”

Overall, consumers felt that brands were doing a fairly good job of delivering on the most important aspects of the customer experience as one in four consumers feels that brands are delivering personalized and relevant engagements across critical touchpoints. However, there is still work to be done as 38% say brands are almost there, and 22% say that brands are delivering, but only on digital channels.

Of note is that millennial respondents were more likely to acknowledge that brands were delivering relevance, albeit only in digital channels, while Generation X respondents felt that brands were struggling to deliver, and boomers felt brands were a long way off.

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