When competitors with better prices are just a click away, customer experience (CX) is a key differentiator for brands. 

Brands appreciate the need for great CX but, according to a new report by Econsultancy, the gap between this and the customer view is considerable. 

The Consumer Conversation report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with IBM, highlights the gap between marketers' intentions and their customers' satisfaction.

Here are a few highlights from the report...

A common theme throughout this research is that brands’ belief in the strength of their customer experience doesn’t line up with their customers’ reality.

For example: 

  • Only one in three consumers believe that their favourite companies understand them.  
  • Of those consumers who switched consumer services in the last year, most did so for reasons companies should be able to predict and prevent.
  • Of the nearly 50% of consumers with a significant service issue in the last 12 months, only 28% say that the company dealt with it very effectively.

Brands believe they’re good at customer experience

When asked, brands are fairly bullish about the experience they provide.

Q: Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? N = 265

Experience is a major factor in customer churn and acquisition

51% of consumers cited experience as the reason for switching providers, while 29% felt experience was important when choosing an alternative. 

Q: What did your new vendor offer that led you to switch? Which of the following best describes what your old vendor did wrong? N = 473

What matters to customers? 

Trust is the major factor here, and it is generated by good customer experiences. 

As report author Stefan Tornquist explains: 

Trust is the essential ingredient in customer loyalty, but it isn’t a direct function. It can’t be won instantly with terms and conditions or brand spending. Trust is earned over time, usually in small ways. Without trust, the customer relationship is driven by short term needs and is limited in scope and potential.

When asked to describe the “perfect” company, consumers identify trustworthiness with data/information to be the most important capability. But in reality, we can’t know how well our data will be protected, and rarely make ourselves aware of how its handled and shared. Trust is a reflection of the customer experience.

The other top factors cited by consumers are where trust is built:

Q: If you were building the perfect company to serve you, what would be most important? N = 618

Brands think they're good at resolving consumer conflicts...

Brands are confident they're doing the right thing, with 89% satisfied or very satisfied in their ability to resolve conflicts that arise. 

Q: How satisfied are you with your ability to resolve customer conflicts?

...but consumers don't necessarily agree

48% felt that issues were dealt with somewhat or very ineffectively. 

Q: How effectively did [that company] deal with your issue?

Graham Charlton

Published 15 April, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (5)

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Rob Ejon, Seeking at Seeking

The colour on the pie charts don't match up. Blue and green wrong way round?

almost 3 years ago

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations

This article is spot-on. Many companies think they deliver great customer service or create a great customer experience, but unfortunately in many companies, the customers have a different opinion. It’s worth the effort to survey both the customers and the employees of a company – especially leadership – to see if the CSAT scores align. If not (and the customers scores are lower), there is work to do!

almost 3 years ago

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wasif anwar, Area Sales Manager at Apple India pvt ltd

Largely agree with the article . However I think the root cause of such disparity in opinion by brands and consumers on CX is to do with Brands limited approach towards CX. I think most Brands only address customers only through the products but CX is much beyond that .there are very few organisations willing to go in that unchartered territory as it requires immense conviction and expertise which can be perceived as expensive and subjective by brands.But in my opinion that must be th goal as far as CX is concerned.

almost 3 years ago

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Pauline Ashenden, Marketing Manager at Eptica

An interesting point is that while marketers at brands don’t understand the gap, frontline customer agents do. In research carried out for Eptica 71% of agents believed that customers’ number one frustration was receiving inadequate or partial answers – and 85% of agents agreed that customers would leave if they didn’t receive good service. Perhaps marketers need to talk more to those on the front-line? More in this blog http://www.eptica.com/blog/need-bridge-customer-engagement-gap

almost 3 years ago

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John Schonegevel, Director at New Frontiers Management Limited

I'm not surprised by these results sadly. Human nature being what it is (and brands being run by humans) no one wants to accept criticism, especially when they put their heart and soul into doing their very best at work.

The problem is cultural. It starts at the top; with leaders who don't/won't/can't listen, who are sealed off from day to day experiences and who believe their own PR.

Here's a simple example - how easy is it to praise or complain directly to a CEO about the customer experience? Answer - mostly very difficult.

You certainly can't do it by phone and it takes a deal of work (and luck) to find their email address.

So they don't want to know. And if they don't want to know, then why would their employees want to tell them bad news? And if that's the case, then its better to pretend that all is great, otherwise it leads to all sorts of personal stress.

almost 3 years ago

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