The customer experience is becoming synonymous with disappointment—and brands still can’t figure out what to do about it. People are upset with the experiences brands are providing, and new research finds that 43 percent of people blacklist brands that fail to meet their expectations—and that a lack of trust in brands is making it increasingly difficult to influence purchasing behavior.

This is according to a new study from Oracle, in partnership with CX pioneer and Customer Bliss founder Jeanne Bliss. The report, One Size Doesn’t Fit All, includes insights from over 1,100 U.S. consumers across four generations.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

“Relationships between brands and consumers begin when a customer has faith in a company and that trust must be constantly earned—it cannot be bought, and can be easily lost,” said Bliss, in a news release. “As this study shows, consumers are attracted to brands that go the extra mile to deliver personalized experiences and are willing to take decisive action when their expectations are not met. The key takeaway here is that one size doesn’t fit all, and if you invest in customer experience, your customers will invest in you.”

Consumers are disappointed—and are taking decisive action

A large majority of consumers (82 percent) have had an experience with a brand that is disappointing or upsetting, and more than three quarters of consumers (78 percent) say they have had an experience where they were not satisfied with the customer service provided.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

As brands fall short, consumers are taking decisive action.

  • Almost half (43 percent) of consumers have blacklisted a brand as the result of a bad experience; while more than one third (34 percent) of consumers said they would never shop with a company again after just one bad experience.
  • 88 percent of consumers share their negative experiences. The majority will tell their friends and family (59 percent), while only 35 percent will contact a company to give it the chance to resolve the issue.
  • When asked to equate contacting customer service to another experience, consumers’ selected unpleasant situations, like going to the dentist (18 percent), stubbing your toe (13 percent) or an awkwardly long hug (13 percent).

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

Consumer trust is confined to friends and family 

The study found that it is increasingly difficult for brands to influence purchasing behavior as consumers have very little trust in influencers, celebrities, politicians and tech-related sources such as social media, mobile advertising and voice-activated services.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

  • Consumers are twice as likely to trust family members (77 percent) and friends (75 percent) than any other source for shopping recommendations. The next most trusted source is colleagues (38 percent).
  • Politicians (2 percent), celebrities (7 percent), a company employee you engage with online (12 percent) and influencers/bloggers (14 percent) are among the least trusted sources of shopping recommendations.
  • Consumer trust in technology was also limited. 92 percent of consumers do not trust recommendations from chat or messaging pop-ups on websites, 89 percent of consumers do not trust voice-activated services like Alexa or Siri, and 81 percent do not trust ads on mobile devices. The most trusted source of tech-driven recommendations was social media ads, which are trusted by just 23 percent of consumers.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

Consumers aren’t getting the personalization they expect

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for personalized and novel experiences and more than half of consumers (57 percent) are comfortable sharing personal information to receive a better experience. But the majority of consumers do not expect brands to deliver.

  • 41 percent of consumers, and almost half of Millennials (47 percent), are willing to pay as much as 20 percent more for an impressive customer experience.
  • 68 percent of consumers think it is important for a store to tailor its experience based on their tastes and preferences.
  • 42 percent of people are more likely to buy from a company that offers novel ways to experience its products and services. This is especially true for Gen Z (58 percent) and Millennials (56 percent).
  • Consumers from different age groups have very different attitudes toward sharing personal information. 64 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers are comfortable sharing personal information to receive better experiences compared to 50 percent of Gen X and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Despite this clear demand, only 15 percent of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions based on their tastes and preferences.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

Consumers expect flexibility and freedom  

When asked about their expectations of brands, consumers noted that they expect to have the flexibility and freedom to subscribe to products and services and the ability to return products or services for free that don’t meet expectations.

  • 75 percent of consumers currently subscribe to products and services and 97 percent report their number of subscriptions will either increase or stay the same over the next three years. The popularity of subscriptions increases dramatically as consumer age decreases: 80 percent of Gen Z subscribes to a movie/TV service compared to only 40 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Consumers also expect to have the flexibility to return products for free (66 percent) and get a refund when a product or service does not meet expectations (64 percent).
  • Only a small percentage of consumers expect a brand to have a social media presence (15 percent), a stance on social/environmental issues (9 percent) or political issues (4 percent).
  • Consumers also want flexibility around when and where they purchase products. Respondents listed surprising places for buying products including standing in line to buy the product in store (17 percent), while in a meeting at work (9 percent), while driving (9 percent), while on a date (6 percent) or in the shower (4 percent).

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

“True customer experience today is not a one-size-fits-all model and as this study shows, brands are increasingly having to operate in a world where customer understanding is at a premium and there is virtually no tolerance for mistakes,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager of Oracle CX Cloud, in the release. “Brands are in a race against time to meet these ever-changing customer expectations and will need to take a data-driven approach to ensure they can make every customer interaction matter.”

Download the full report here.

Consumers are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore—4 in 5 give brands the thumbs down

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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