As we turn our sights to a recovering retail economy, one vestige of the COVID experience will be sticking around for the foreseeable future—customer service is now so important for retailers and marketers that a whopping 90 percent of consumers say they would not shop with a retailer again if they provided bad customer service and 93 percent of consumers think retail customer service should be more convenient, up from 78 percent in 2019, according to new research from modern customer experience CRM firm Kustomer.
The firm’s new report, The Changing Face of Retail: What Modern Consumers Expect from Retail Customer Service, underscores the need for continued investment in customer service and the importance of delivering consistent, omnichannel service throughout the customer journey.
“The stakes for retail customer service are becoming higher as the massive shift to online shopping and resulting increase in customer service inquiries has permanently changed the role of customer service from transactional to consultative,” said Brad Birnbaum, co-founder and CEO of Kustomer, in a news release. “Today’s consumers see customer service as an extension of brand identity and expect both digital and in-store retailers to provide proactive, consistent and seamless service across every available platform at every point along the buyer’s journey. There is no longer room for error when it comes to customer service, requiring retailers to deliver a true omni-experience to build meaningful and long-term customer relationships.”
Kustomer surveyed American consumers to better understand how their expectations of retail customer service have changed over the past 18 months, and the business impact of a poor customer experience. Key findings include:
Retailers can’t afford bad customer service
Ninety percent of consumers would not shop with a retailer again if they provided bad customer service, while 67 percent of consumers would completely abandon their purchase if they had a poor customer service interaction during the purchasing process. While 27 percent of consumers report either posting on social media after a bad experience with a retailer and/or posting an online review, 93 percent of consumers would recommend a retailer to a friend after a good customer service experience.
Omni-experience is imperative
Eighty-two percent of consumers report that they expect to be treated the same by online and in-store retail customer service and 87 percent of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact retail customer service on their preferred channel.
Younger consumers are setting the bar for future customer experiences
Seventy-seven percent of consumers under 25 report that they are willing to spend more money for good customer service, compared to an average of 62 percent. Seventy-seven percent of Gen Z respondents think chatbots are helpful, as compared to an average of 46 percent. Gen Z prefers customer service emails and texts, while consumers ages 35+ prefer phone and email.
“As expectations for customer service continue to shift, understanding the generational differences in how consumers prefer to engage with customer service also provides critical insight into the future of the customer experience,” added Birnbaum. “Knowing that younger consumers prefer text and live chat over phone, and have a much larger appetite for self-service and chatbots than older generations, it is especially important that brands implement customer service technology that can meet the unique needs and expectations of each generation.”
The results presented in this report are from a survey conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Kustomer between April 9th and 24th, 2021. A total of 577 responses were recorded, of adults 18+ who reside within the United States and shopped online within the past year. Kustomer developed the survey in conjunction with the Qualtrics Expert Method team and data was scrubbed twice during the course of the research to ensure accurate responses. No personal information was gathered from respondents during the course of the survey.