With Consumer Dissatisfaction Rising, It’s Time for More Radical Change in CX

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A tidal wave of dissatisfied consumers is threatening to sink companies that have lost touch with their customers. Meanwhile, firms that employ innovative technology to upgrade the customer experience could find themselves propelled to growth by a strong current of new customers.  

Consumers are increasingly unhappy with the companies they use across a broad range of products and services. Companies are trying to do better. However, data from Broadridge’s 2024 CX and Consumer Insights Survey shows those efforts are falling woefully short. Since 2019, the percentage of consumers who believe the companies they do business with need to improve the experience they deliver has doubled, hitting 70% this year. Communications, while often overlooked, actually play a central role in a consumer’s opinion of their overall experience with a company.

It’s time for more radical change. Technology available today enables companies to entirely transform the way they serve their customers, and the way consumers experience their businesses. Because these digital capabilities are designed for easy implementation and use, companies have the opportunity to re-make their customer experiences without disrupting their businesses—and without breaking the bank. The payoff will be worth it: In an age of broad customer discontent, nearly half of consumers say they are willing to spend more to receive a better experience and service.

What Customers Want

I attribute the recent declines in consumer satisfaction mainly to rising expectations. Of course, there are plenty of companies who simply provide poor service. We’ve all experienced long wait times on customer help lines, frustrations with chat bots, and unhelpful clunky digital experiences. In general, however, most companies have used technology to improve self-service features while reducing costs. The complicating factor for companies with tighter resources is that some of their peers have improved the customer experience much faster, and to a much greater extent. Once a consumer encounters a truly delightful experience, the bar has immediately risen for the other companies they do business with.  Whether subconscious or not, this often leads consumers to expect every company to make it easy and pleasant to do business, and to personalize the experience. Almost 90% consumers say it’s important for companies to make it easier for customers to do business and communicate; however, only about a quarter of consumers say companies are doing a good job on this front. 

Making Life Easier for Consumers

Companies can make life easier for their customers by being proactive. For instance, insurance companies are using technology to pre-populate claims forms, automatically notifying customers of next steps, providing digital signatures, and taking other actions to streamline processes. In any industry, one of the most effective and important things companies can do is to allow customers to establish their communication preferences and then create the best possible customer experience in the customer’s preferred channel(s). While 90% of consumers think it is important for companies to honor their preferred communication method, only 31% of consumers say the companies they are hitting that mark today.  For example, only about one-in-five consumers wants to communicate exclusively through physical mail. However, more than a third of participants in the Broadridge study say their companies continue sending paper documents even though they have already agreed to go paperless.

People Prefer Personalization

More than 70% of consumers want a personalized experience from companies. Personalization looks different from industry to industry. One of the most common examples is seen in retail, where companies suggest products to customers based on what they’ve looked at and purchased in the past. Consumers now expect similar levels of relevance in their interactions with all companies. In financial services, for example, nearly three-quarters of consumers want their providers to replace the traditional flow of statements, confirmations and regulatory communications with more personal documents that blend account updates with more interesting and valuable insights. This is design thinking – and executing on it is providing the transformational approach that consumers are craving.

Transforming with Technology

Rather than making one-off changes to try to address areas in which they are seen as lagging, companies should take advantage of innovations that enable them to remake the customer experience from the ground up. For example, technology providers now offer platforms that allow companies to deploy fully omni-channel communications experiences that elevate overall customer experiences. Companies can continue to leverage the best of their current technology, while taking a modular approach to improving other aspects of their communications experiences.

Legacy technology can serve as a limiting factor when companies are seeking to streamline and personalize their customer communications. For instance, consider a scenario where you have checking and savings accounts, a mortgage, investments, credit cards and other products with the same bank. For many people, a great customer experience would likely include a consolidated view of these relationships; however, some banks are limited by legacy platforms and processes that result in the bank treating you as multiple accounts. By modernizing their back-end communications ecosystem, the bank would be able to create that consolidated and personalized experience that consumers are craving – a new summary communication that weaves in insights about all of these accounts.

There are similar opportunities to consolidate communications within business lines. For instance, Broadridge has supported its brokerage clients with a product that pulls together aspects of transactional, regulatory, and marketing communications into a consolidated view that we call “Wealth InFocus” – reducing operational costs through content consolidation, while also improving investor and advisor experiences.  

A Life Raft for Business

Although I’m advising companies to be bolder and more ambitious in revamping their customer experiences, it’s important to take a thoughtful approach when it comes to adopting new technology. Eight out of ten consumers still want to talk to a human when issues arise. And consumers have real concerns about the artificial intelligence applications that are increasingly driving companies’ client service. More than half of consumers don’t trust AI, and two-thirds say AI lacks the sense of empathy that is so critical to company communications. AI certainly has its place in customer experience, but these data points reinforce that companies should not be implementing technology haphazardly, or just to cut costs.  That said, for companies facing a rising tide of customer dissatisfaction, technology solutions that improve communications – and customer(!) – experiences could serve as the vessel that carriers your business to safer waters!

Matt Swain
Matt Swain is a recognized customer communications industry thought leader. From delivering keynotes around the world to defining best practices, hundreds of well-known companies have relied on Matt’s expertise and research for their current and future omnichannel communication initiatives. As Managing Director and Practice Lead for Broadridge Communications Consulting, Matt brings invaluable market research and consulting expertise to clients relative to benchmarking, as well as for communications strategy, design, and execution across print and digital channels.

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