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?