New Study Reveals Brands Aren’t Meeting Customer Expectations

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Consumers are giving brands a huge thumbs down when it comes to the overall shopping experience, according to a new study from Oracle and Customer Bliss.

An overwhelming 82% of respondents to the study said they had a disappointing or upsetting shopping experience, and 78% said they had been dissatisfied with a customer service experience.

The study showed that 43% of consumers have blacklisted a brand as a result of a bad experience, while 34% said they would never shop with a company again after just one bad experience.

Jeanne Bliss, founder and CEO of retail consultancy Customer Bliss, said as far as how customers expect to be treated, it’s all about respect and reliability.

“If a company delivered something that is poor quality and the customer recovers from it, it is fine,” Bliss said. “If they don’t, they move on. These younger folks are gravitating towards companies where values are showing how they want to treat people. Is it a one-off transaction or will it be something people come back to?”

Eighty-eight percent of study respondents share their negative experiences, with 59% saying they will tell their friends and family, while only 35% said they’ll contact the company to give it a chance to resolve the issue.

Bliss said recognize that the customer is having an issue in a number of channels.  Customers expect retailers to provide them with an issue resolution process.  It’s important to show humility and remorse and solve the problem.

“It’s restoring the emotional connection,” Bliss said. “As consumers we are going to say, ‘aren’t you going to do something more for me?’”

Consumers apparently see contacting customer service as a painful experience, with 18% comparing it to going to the dentist, 13% said it was akin to stubbing your toe, and the same number saying it was like an awkwardly long hug.

The study found it’s increasingly difficult for brands to influence purchasing behavior as consumers have little trust in influencers, celebrities, politicians and sources like social media, mobile advertising and voice-activated services.

Consumers are twice as likely to trust family members (77%) and friends (75%) than any other source of recommendations. The next most trusted source is colleagues, at 38%. Among the least trusted for recommendations are politicians (2%), celebrities (7%), a brand associate (12%) and influencers/bloggers (14%).

Ninety-two percent of respondents said they don’t trust recommendations from chat or messaging pop-ups. Eighty-nine percent said they don’t trust voice-activated services like Alexa or Siri, and 81% don’t trust ads on mobile devices. The most trusted tech-driven recommendations were social media ads (23%).

The study found consumers are willing to pay a premium for a personalized experience, with 57% comfortable sharing personal information for the benefit. This varied by age group, with 64% of both Gen Z and millennial consumers agreeing with this idea, compared to 50% of Gen X and 35% of baby boomers. However, only 15% of all respondents expect brands to deliver a personalized experience based on their tastes and preferences.

Forty-one percent of all respondents, and 47% of millennials, said they were willing to pay as much as 20% more for an impressive customer experience. Sixty-eight percent said it’s important for a retailer to tailor the experience based on their tastes and preferences.

“You know me’ is actually now table stakes for customers,” said Bliss. “Retailers should know who you are.”

Forty-two percent of respondents said they were more likely to buy from a company that offered novel ways to experience its products and services, with responses higher for Gen Z (58%) and millennials (56%).

Three-quarters of respondents said they currently belong to a subscription service, while 97% said they will either keep the same number of subscription services or increase them over the next three years.

Two-third of respondents said they expect free returns, with a slightly lower number of them (64%) expecting a refund when a product or service doesn’t meet their expectations. Only 15% expect a brand to have a social media presence, with even fewer of them expecting a stance on social/environmental issues (9%) or political issues (4%).

Consumers also want flexibility around when and where they purchase products. Some respondents listed surprising places for buying products including during a work meeting (9%), while driving (9%), while on a date (6%) or in the shower (4%).

The study was conducted on behalf of Oracle by the Data + Analytics Unit within H+K Strategies.  The survey was fielded February 11-14 and surveyed 1,143 adults 18+ across the U.S. evenly split between Gen Z adults (18-24 years old), millennial adults (25-39 years old), Gen X (40-54 years old) and Baby Boomers (55-75 years old.)



One response to “New Study Reveals Brands Aren’t Meeting Customer Expectations

  1. Very interesting data in this article. Given the growth of e-commerce, there’s a lot of focus on the customer experience these days and a huge opportunity to improve in this area by giving consumers what they want, especially with returns. Today the returns process is just as important to the experience as fast delivery so I’m curious where brands are ranking this in priority.

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