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The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is out with a new study saying that "almost half of North American and European consumers ... say they will abandon a brand and take their money elsewhere if they continuously encounter a poor, impersonal or frustrating customer experience across channels of engagement."

Indeed, the study concludes that the most important factors in the shopping experience, as defined by actual shoppers, have little to do with the online segment. "When asked to outline the key aspects of an exceptional customer experience," the study says, "52 percent expected fast response times to needs, suggestions or issues, and 47 percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed."

Less important, the study says, "were elements like always-on assisted service (8 percent), brand-developed social communities to connect consumers with other fans (9 percent), and access to multiple touchpoints as part of the customer journey."

Overall, the study says, "consumers felt that brands were doing a fairly good job of delivering on the most important aspects of the customer experience as one in four consumers feels that brands are delivering personalized and relevant engagements across critical touchpoints. However, there is still work to be done as 38 percent say brands are almost there, and 22 percent say that brands are delivering, but only in digital channels. Of note is that millennial respondents were more likely to acknowledge that brands were delivering relevance, albeit only in digital channels, while Generation X respondents felt that brands were struggling to deliver, and boomers felt brands were a long way off."

Another conclusion from the study: "While men admit they prefer mostly digital experiences (61 percent), women (59 percent) admit that no channel really meets all of their needs. Perhaps this is why the top frustration for women ties back to the disconnect in physical and digital experiences as they are most irked by buying something online and not being able to return it in store (56 percent). Men, on the other hand, are most frustrated by constantly feeling the brands they do business with know nothing about them."
KC's View:
I don't care if we're talking online or bricks-and-mortar ... brands have to realize that consumers have a plethora of choices, and can easily gain access to the competition when a brand does not live up to its basic value proposition ... when it over-promises and under-delivers ... and when its values seem at odds with those of the shopper. Abandonment isn't just a certainty ... it will be standard operating procedure, and many brands will not get a second chance to screw up.