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82% of Retailers Believe they Provide a High Level of Customer Experience, but 72% of Consumers Disagree

By on May 16, 2014 Editor's Pick 4 Comments

It’s the age of the customer and retailers are getting serious about how they implement and manage the customer experience.

Today’s consumers live multi dimensional, multi platform lives and their buying behaviours reflect the same complex dynamics. These days it’s rare for a customer to be a ‘purely online’ or ‘purely bricks and mortar’ consumer; increasingly they expect their retailer of choice to provide convenience, choice and seamless interaction across all channels. All of this puts increasing pressure on retailers to deliver a consistent customer experience – and by implication, brand experience – whatever the channel.

Customer Experience

However, in a thought leadership and research report commissioned by Qmatic and entitled “Great Expectations” Vanson Bourne, a specialist technology market research company, has revealed that there is a disconnect between how retailers rate their performance and customer perceptions of actual service delivery. In an in-depth survey of online and offline channels undertaken with 100 UK retail decision makers and 500 consumers, Vanson Bourne found that, while retailers believe that overall they’re performing well – with 82% stating their organisation provides a good or extremely good customer experience – 72% of consumers confirmed they’ve encountered inconsistencies in their customer experience when using a retailer’s online and in-store channels.

In several of my previous blog posts I have written about the importance of the store. In the post
The surprising gap in the modern Customer Experience I highlight the importance of human interaction in a more and more connect world. In the post Shoppers using multiple retail channels spend more money I provide evidence that shoppers using more than one channel spend more money with retailers. And in the post Why 90% of Your Customers Leave After a Single Bad Experience – And What To Do About It I highlight 6 concrete areas to work with in improving the face to face touch points and how to seamlessly integrate the store with the virtual world.

So, clearly customer experience in the physical store is becoming ever more pivotal to overall brand perceptions and purchasing behaviours. Getting it wrong risks contamination across all channels – and ultimately leads to less engaged and less loyal customers. Indeed, the report also states that in the last 12 months around 31% of consumers confirmed that they had abandoned purchasing from a retailer because of a poor customer experience.

Therefore it is quite surprising that this new research find such a significant disconnect between the retailers and their customers. For me it indicates that many retailers still have a long way to go in delivering on the great words of being “multi-channel”, “omni-channel” and/or “seamless”.

The first place to start is to make an outside-in and honest evaluation of the current state – with this as a base it’s then possible to start moving on the path to customer experience maturity.

DOWNLOAD THE RESEARCH REPORT HERE >>

Images courtesy of Qmatic

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4 Responses to 82% of Retailers Believe they Provide a High Level of Customer Experience, but 72% of Consumers Disagree

  1. Michael Lowenstein May 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    In an interview Bob Thompson conducted with me some years back – http://customerthink.com/insight_into_how_customers_think/ – one the the areas of our discussion was mirroring research, a technique in which front line and managerial employees are asked to identify both experience attribute performance and importance level, as they believe customers will rate them. These ratings are then compared to the actual results given by customers. Just as in the research report you cite, there is invariably, and historically, a significant disconnect between the perceptions of retailers and customers regarding the overall experience and delivery of value. This occurs, by the way, not just in retailing but in virtually all industries.

  2. Sven-Olof Husmark May 17, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Thank you for your comment Michael. I certainly agree that there often is a disconnect in other sectors as well. For example we investigated a large, national Healthcare organisation last year, the NHS in the UK. The sheer number of resources and departments involved in patient care inevitably lead to bottlenecks, and in an organisation the size of the NHS; bottlenecks soon mount up to costly inefficiencies and poor patient experience. This wastes taxpayer’s money, the time of medical staff and lets patients down. Here though, we found that senior decision makers acknowledged that better patient management was the way forward. As an example in the survey 62% said that improving patient flow in their department alone was a priority that needs to be looked at. However, at the same time only a quarter (26%) had any development projects underway to actually improving the situation. So, even with an insight into the problem there is often a lack of activities to close the value and experience gap.

  3. Andrew Boon May 19, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Interesting article. Omnichannel strategies have become an essential part of retail success. Omnichannel strategies allow retailers to engage fully with a consumer through all channels, enhancing the consumer experience while creating brand awareness and improving consumer loyalty. I work for McGladrey and thought this conversation aligns well with a white paper that was created on this subject, if your readers are interested in it.@ “ The one constant in retail is change” https://bitly.com/1hrViqk

  4. Sven-Olof Husmark May 19, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Andrew, I have read the white paper you recommended. Thanks. It’s a good summary of the challenges and opportunities with omni-channel as well as some valuable recommendations. I found the part in the white paper where you discuss the importance of staff interaction in relation to cart abandonment very interesting. Your white paper confirms that adjusting staffing hours to peak traffic period is an effective way to increase the likelihood of purchase after interaction with a team sales member. I certainly agree with the fact that the probability of purchase increase after interaction with a sales person. Adding the fact that research indicates that 30-50% of consumers walk out of the store without having had any staff interaction and that some 70-80% of the purchasing decisions are made in the store multiplies the challenge. There are more ways than one to solve this but in my experience most of the retailers still only work with quite simple staff rostering methods based on past sales and anticipated peak traffic. This is an area where more attention should be allocated. Processes and technology that supports the connection and personalization of the staff-consumer interaction is pivotal to the success of creating better experiences and increased sales.

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