The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to digital experience

by | May 18, 2021 | Public Relations

Marketing changed gears during COVID—the pandemic drove shoppers online in record numbers, cementing digital experiences as the primary way to reach and engage consumers in industries ranging from retail and quick-serve restaurants to banking, travel and healthcare. This “digital-first” mindset is here to stay for consumers and companies alike, and the quality of these experiences drives revenue and brand loyalty. But what constitutes a standout digital experience, where are consumers struggling and are they notifying businesses of these opportunities?

New research from digital experience intelligence firm FullStory reveals consumers’ preferences, frustrations and opinions around digital interactions. The survey of more than 1,500 American consumers found eight in 10 (81 percent) plan to maintain or increase their online usage, even as in-person shopping, services and activities resume. However, digital frustrations are common and costly. The survey finds that the majority of respondents (64 percent) have been frustrated or struggled in the last six months, and 77 percent will abandon a transaction when they experience an issue.

Yet brands are often unaware of these challenges because only 12 percent of consumers are very likely to share feedback when a digital error occurs, making it difficult to identify and address errors in a timely manner.

The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to digital experience

“Across every industry, consumers are holding companies accountable for subpar digital experiences,” said Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, chief marketing officer of FullStory, in as news release. “The rise of digital-first business brings great opportunity but also risk, as this survey correlates a poor digital experience with customer and revenue loss. To be successful, businesses must understand not only what is happening in their customers’ experiences, but most importantly why, in order to stay one step ahead of digital users.”

Businesses pay a high price for digital errors

Companies have invested heavily in digital experience innovation, but remain challenged by technical issues that prevent consumers from accomplishing their tasks, erode trust, and negatively impact sales.

  • Nearly two out of three Americans (64 percent) have been frustrated or struggled to complete an online transaction in the last six months.
  • After an error, 77 percent of consumers are likely to leave without completing a transaction, and 60 percent say they aren’t likely to return.
  • 65 percent report that they trust a business less when they experience a problem using a website or mobile app.

What kinds of common issues might these users be trying to report?

The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to digital experience

Common frustrations often go unreported

Customers are unlikely to share details around digital struggles, making it difficult for brands to quickly identify and fix problems.

  • The most important factor in creating a good online experience is being able to “quickly accomplish what I came to do” (83 percent).
  • The most frustrating issues for consumers online are page glitches (55 percent), forms that don’t correctly accept inputs (45 percent) and page-loading errors (42 percent).
  • When a problem occurs, only 12 percent of consumers are very likely to provide feedback to the business.
  • Even when consumers do provide feedback, it’s most likely through manual and time-consuming methods like surveys (49 percent) or by chatting or emailing the business (41% and 40%, respectively) and not typically to the team that can directly fix the issue.

What makes a “good” digital experience in the eyes of consumers?

The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to digital experience

Digital experience ratings vary widely by industry

Four in 10 respondents (41 percent) transact online at least once a day, and a quarter (26 percent) head online multiple times a day to place an order, purchase an item, pay a bill or make a reservation. But, while digital is here to stay, the quality of experiences varies widely.

  • 81 percent of consumers anticipate the frequency of their digital interactions will increase or stay the same, even as COVID-19 restrictions lift.
  • Retail received the highest ratings for positive online experiences (34 percent excellent; 7 percent poor), followed closely by banking (26 percent excellent; 7 percent poor).
  • Airlines scored last for online experiences (27 percent poor; 10 percent excellent). Hotel and quick service restaurants also received low rankings (13 percent poor; 7 percent excellent).

How are industries doing?

The stakes are higher than ever when it comes to digital experience

“To improve the digital experience, companies need insight into what works and what doesn’t in a way that is automated, scalable, and actionable,” continued Newbold-Knipp. “Unfortunately, many consumers don’t take the time to provide feedback when things go wrong, and even those who do so use methods that are expensive and difficult for businesses to scale. Companies need to take a new approach to digital experience intelligence to meet evolving expectations and stay in step with consumers.”

Read more about the research here.

FullStory conducted an online survey of more than 1,500 American consumers in April 2021.

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 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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