New research from Conduent Inc., a digital interactions company, finds that despite increased options for digital customer communications, brands’ ability to meet consumer expectations for sales, service and experience is declining.
Conduent’s Consumer Experience Report found the stakes are high: 58 percent of customers in the retail, technology, communications and media industries report they are likely or willing to change brands to seek better experiences, a 12 percent increase from last year.
Across the board, customers expect an end-to-end consumer experience, with businesses offering high-quality, consistent service across multiple channels. Brands are falling short of these expectations: one in four consumers believe brand experiences have not improved in the last 10 years.
Rise of the self-help customer
61 percent of consumers surveyed prefer to resolve their own issues rather than work with a representative from the company, an increase of 12 percent since 2017. Customers expect brands to provide things like FAQ pages and digital assistants to empower them to do so quickly; 66 percent of consumers want a 10-minute resolution to any issue.
Roadblocks cited include insufficient detail in the FAQ (12 percent) and a solution not existing online (23 percent), forcing a call to customer service or an in-person visit.
Eighty-one percent of all customer interactions with businesses in the future will be digital, the study claims, but one size does not fit all.
“People have varied preferred communication channels, and they expect businesses to be consistently available on all of those channels,” the study finds.
For example, 11 percent of respondents from the technology industry have contacted a business via SMS, 15 percent and 14 percent have interacted with a business via Facebook and Twitter respectively, and 25 percent have used email.
“The results of this year’s Consumer Experience Report are a wake-up call for brands,” said Christine Landry, group chief executive, Conduent, consumer & industrials. “It’s no longer a matter of if companies implement technologies like artificial intelligence, but when. There is a great opportunity to apply automation across digital platforms to break down data silos between channels and offer the immediacy, individualization and intelligence that make up a great customer experience.”