Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Trust and loyalty drop in 2023

The volume of customers giving feedback directly to brands after a bad customer experience in Australia declined in 2023, according to new research by Qualtrics.

A drop in feedback on bad experiences hasn’t resulted in happier customers, though, with findings also showing consumer trust (down 4% to 71%), advocacy (down 3% to 69%), and intent to rebuy (down 4% to 69%) all fell over the same period.

Findings in the ‘2024 Consumer Experience Trends Report’ from Qualtrics – based on more than 28,000 responses globally, including 1200 in Australia – show almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) don’t share feedback directly with a brand after a bad experience, up 6 points from 2021.

In contrast, half of the respondents say they will tell their friends and family, 28% will give feedback to the company, 14% will leave an online review, and 13% post to social media.

It’s not just after bad experiences either. Consumers are giving less direct feedback after good experiences, too. One-quarter of respondents (27%) will give feedback to the company about a good experience, half will tell their friends and family, 19% will leave an online review, and 13% post to social media.

“By tuning into feedback in the places where customers are giving it, organisations can create a more authentic view of their customer experience and surface insights that may not have come up in a traditional survey,” says Qualtrics.

“And this shift in feedback habits highlights an opportunity to build a deeper understanding of what customers want and need, and the critical need for businesses and governments to expand the ways they listen to and respond to consumers and citizens.”

Trends for 2024

The Qualtrics study shows consumer expectations are on the rise heading into 2024.

“Providing a seamless experience across every channel – from shopping online through to calling customer support or using a chatbot – is now table stakes,” says the company.

“And, as AI becomes a bigger part of daily life, consumers are putting a premium on human connection and rewarding brands that deliver exceptional digital support with their dollars and lasting loyalty.”

The shift in how consumers give feedback is one of four trends highlighted by Qualtrics set to define the consumer experience in 2024:

  • Human connection is the foundation of a winning AI strategy
  • Great service beats low prices in the battle for customer loyalty
  • Digital support is the weakest link in your customer journey
  • Consumer’s don’t give feedback like they used to, so companies must listen in new ways

Winning with AI

While organisations are focused on adopting and deploying AI to build deeper connections with customers, says Qualtrics, Australian consumers are less excited about the changes.

Slightly more than one-third of Australian respondents say they are comfortable with AI-powered services and communications (compared to 48% globally), expressing concerns with a lack of human connection, misuse of personal data, the possibility people will lose their jobs, and service quality.

The majority of respondents still prefer to interact with brands via human channels (64%) instead of digital (36%).

“The most successful initial AI strategies will see organisations use the technology to power transactional engagements and equip frontline employees with the tools, insights, and ability to deliver higher levels of customer service,” says Qualtrics.

Product quality and service

Even in the current inflationary economy, price isn’t the deciding factor in purchase decisions for most consumers, according to Qualtrics.

“Product and service quality primarily dictates how consumers spend their money, with price followed by customer service support,” says the company.

“Consumers placing significant importance to a range of purchase drivers underlines the need for brands to understand what matters to their customers so they’re able to prioritise and focus their investments.

“One barrier to delivering great customer experience is lagging morale among frontline staff like cashiers, restaurant servers and bank tellers.

“Separate Qualtrics research shows frontline workers are less satisfied with their pay and development, and support to do their job, compared to non-frontline employees – a trend at risk of getting worse before it gets better, with only 38% of [surveyed] customer experience leaders making ‘training our customer service agents and frontline employees’ a priority.”

Digital support

Great digital support can have an “outsized impact” on customer loyalty, says Qualtrics.

Despite being equally satisfied making a purchase online or in person, globally surveyed consumers are 2.7 times more likely to return if they had great digital support, compared to 2.5 times after great customer support from a person.

Respondents are six percentage points less likely to be satisfied by their digital customer support experience, compared to human support.

“The issue is especially pressing as brands are increasing their reliance on digital channels to drive their business,” says Qualtrics.

A recent Qualtrics study found that 70% of surveyed companies say that digital channels contribute to at least 40% of their revenue, and 85% of respondents expect that number to grow in the coming months.

Read the full ‘2024 Consumer Experience Trends Report’ here.

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