Comms pros and consumers definitely see things differently when it comes to customer satisfaction—while brands might believe they are delivering a superior experience, the consumer perception says otherwise.
New research from customer engagement tech firm RedPoint Global examines this gap between marketer and consumer expectations surrounding customer experience (CX). Conducted by The Harris Poll, the survey of more than 3,000 consumers and 450 senior marketers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada reveals that marketers (34 percent) are nearly twice as likely as consumers (18 percent) to believe brands do an excellent job delivering an exceptional CX.
Further emphasizing the gap, marketers consistently rate their performance higher than consumers do across all four core dimensions of CX: personalization, customer understanding, omnichannel/consistency, and privacy*.
For marketers, technology limitations contribute to the CX gap and continue to hinder their attempts to bridge strategy and execution
Specifically, 57 percent of marketers report that their company has the right CX strategy in place but is unable to execute it effectively. Additionally, the majority of marketers report having a difficult time providing a seamless customer experience. Brands who have up to nine engagement systems (61 percent) express this difficulty, with the percentage rising considerably (76 percent) for those with 10 or more customer engagement systems in place. Looking at this data, it can be inferred that siloed legacy marketing technology (martech) solutions have not delivered on the promises of real-time engagement, customer understanding, personalization, privacy, a single customer view, and omnichannel presence demanded by the modern consumer.
“While marketers understand the importance of transforming the consumer experience, many continue to face roadblocks in delivering the seamless personalization today’s consumers demand,” said John Nash, chief marketing and strategy officer at RedPoint Global, in a news release. “In the survey with Harris Poll, we saw a consistent gap in perception between consumers and marketers in the success of these personalization efforts, with marketers acknowledging they are unable to execute their advanced CX strategies very well. Ultimately, bridging the gap in customer experience expectations will only happen when marketers have the ability to overcome their silos through a single point of control over all data, decisions, and interactions.”
What exactly do consumers expect?
The research further shows 63 percent of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service and they feel like a brand recognizes them as an individual when they are sent unique special offers (52 percent) and are recognized as a customer across all touchpoints (43 percent). Yet according to the consumer, many brands are not keeping pace with personalization expectations. Interactions that consumers label “very frustrating” include brands sending them an offer for a recently purchased item (34 percent), sending offers that aren’t relevant (33 percent), or when a brand fails to recognize them as an existing customer (31 percent).
In the eyes of the consumer, privacy stands out as a key part of the overall experience. The survey reveals that a slight majority of consumers (54 percent) are willing to share personal information with companies if it will be used to create a personalized experience, which rises for younger generations like Gen Z (ages 18-23) (72 percent) and Millennials (ages 24-37) (70 percent). The trade-off is that in exchange for sharing personal information, consumers appear to expect transparency, with 74 percent saying it’s very important or absolutely essential brands tell them what information is being collected.
Marketers and consumers do agree there is room for improvement
Most marketers (76 percent) admit their company still has significant room for improvement in delivering a consistently exceptional CX, with nearly the same percentage of consumers (78 percent) agreeing.
“The data…back up what we hear from customers, that consumers are expecting an ever-increasing level of personalization and control while marketers scramble to meet those expectations,” said David Daniels, CEO and founder of The Relevancy Group, in the release. “Organizations that want to provide relevant and contextual experiences across the customer lifecycle realize that bridging these gaps in expectations and execution is the most important thing they can do for long term growth.”
It’s not all doom and gloom, as progress is being made and marketers are optimistic about the future
A large fraction (86 percent) report they have made improvements in closing the gap between CX strategy and execution across all customer interaction channels over the last year, while 83 percent are confident that they will continue to improve over the next year. Marketers will continue to advance their strategies to meet changing consumer expectations, requiring a high degree of agility as an overwhelming 96 percent anticipate their CX strategy will further evolve over the next 12 months.
The marketer survey was fielded between January 2 – 28, 2019 among 454 adults 18+ residing in the United States (n=150), Canada (n=150), or the United Kingdom (n=154) who are employed full-time, working in selected industries and functions with annual revenue of at least $500M and has one of the following job titles: Chief Digital Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, or Director.
* CX Dimension Scores were created using 12 questions on a five-point scale to classify into four core categories for marketers and consumer: Privacy (14.9 consumers vs. 19.0 marketers), Personalization (14.3 consumers vs. 18.5 marketers), Customer Understanding (14.3 consumers vs. 18.2 marketers) and Omnichannel/Consistency (14.7 consumers vs. 18.2 marketers).