UK Consumers have become more demanding and more easily disappointed despite their access to brands and companies vastly improving with the development of digital technology, a study has shown.
The report from customer experience management firm Thunderhead surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and interviewed senior customer executives from 33 businesses. The findings concluded that nearly a quarter of people (24 per cent) said they would take more than a year to forgive a company if it had somehow broken their trust, while 23 per cent said they would never trust the company again.
In addition, more than half (52 per cent) said there had been no improvement in their relationships with businesses over the last three years, and a quarter said they had worsened. Of the people surveyed, nearly a this (30 per cent) said they would share a bad experience online, on the phone or in person, and the report concluded that on average a negative experience would be shared with around 18 people.
“Marketing has become a highly sophisticated and business-critical operation that looks beyond customer acquisition and with this has grown in its importance to organisations,” the report stated. “However, with greater profile comes increased scrutiny also. Unfortunately, as our research suggests, the reality is that too often investment in the customer relationship is undermined by a lack of focus on customer engagement.
“This leads to frustration and dissatisfaction which in turn reduces loyalty, increases churn and can cost businesses millions in lost revenues.”
According to the study, 60 per cent of respondents felt ‘real-time contact’ had stayed the same over the last three years while 66 per cent said they believed business’ knowledge of them had also remained the same.
The report warned that department silos within businesses were adversely affecting the customer experience and causing a lack of joined up thinking in customer care. The vast majority of respondents (92 per cent) said they felt negatively towards businesses that required them to provide information multiple times and 21 per cent said that alone would be enough to make them consider leaving for a competitor.
“Because customer knowledge is often housed in separate silos, individuals within the company don’t have a complete view of the customer across their journey, which means no one is able to harness the company’s full knowledge of the customer and use it to inform more personalised, relevant and valuable experiences.”
The report added that customers expected businesses to act speedily when they encountered a problem, with more than one in 10 (12 per cent) saying they would definitely change provider as a result and a quarter saying they would consider it. The study also found that consumers were looking for a more personal customer service approach from businesses with 87 per cent saying being treated with a one-size fits all approach would give them a negative view of the business.