A third of customers would avoid companies after just one poor experience

SAS research reveals UK customers losing patience with companies offering poor customer service

A third of UK customers would ditch companies after just one poor experience, according to research conducted by SAS, an analytics company. Meanwhile, 90 percent of customers would abandon companies after just two-to-five poor examples of customer service, before moving to competing brands. The research shows that, despite disruption caused by COVID-19, customers’ patience with companies offering a poor customer experience is running thin.

Businesses looking to avoid this pitfall can no longer rely solely on price, according to respondents. The research found that, when deciding who they will spend their money with, customers are placing increasing importance on the experience and service provided by brands.

Almost three-fifths (59 per cent) of respondents said they would pay more to buy and/or use products and services from businesses that provided them with a good customer experience during COVID-19.

This coincides with a drop in the importance of price. Before the pandemic three-fifths (61 percent) of customers put it in their top three factors for a good customer experience. Now, it is in just over half (54 percent) of customers’ top three – a decrease of seven percent in a short period of time.

The challenge intensifies further for businesses as the research found that what customers consider to be a ‘good’ customer experience can encompass everything and anything from price to convenience.

When respondents were asked to rank their top three customer experience concerns, the responses were quite evenly spread and led to the following findings:

  • A quarter (25 percent) valued flexible returns and refunds as a key concern;
  • Close to a third (32 percent) cared about responsive customer support;
  • Almost half (46 percent) labelled customer experience more important than low prices and discounts;
  • Nearly a third (29 percent) felt it was essential for companies to behave responsibly;
  • Meanwhile, nearly two-fifths (38 percent) placed great value in convenience

Findings from last year’s Experience 2030 report showed that companies were out of sync with customer demands. For example, more than half of companies selected high quality products/services as the most important factor (58 percent), which was true for just a third (35 percent) of customers.

Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“With customer needs differing so wildly from one customer to the next, combined with their lack of patience for companies offering poor experiences and customer service, this tells businesses one thing: they must start recognising customers as individuals and tailor the experiences they deliver accordingly.”

The research also found that there have been signs of improvement over the last few months, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19. On average, a quarter (25 percent) of customers noted an improvement in the customer experience during lockdown. Further, the good news for businesses is that one in 10 (11 percent) customers started using a digital service/app for the first time since lockdown, with almost three-fifths (58 percent) planning to continue using it after lockdown. This represents a significant new pool of digital customers for businesses to interact with, but it’s important they have the capability to analyse this new online data to drive superior marketing analytics and customer experience.

However, despite these improvements and new opportunities, customers still think there is much more that businesses can do. An average of 11 per cent of customers still felt that the customer experience had diminished over lockdown. This still leaves the majority of customers undecided on their feelings towards the customer experience: an opportunity for businesses to better understand their behaviours and preferences by using analytics, providing them with a competitive advantage.

To find out more read the full EMEA findings in Experience 2030: Has covid-19 created a new kind of customer?

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