The shocking stats that shook the CX world in 2022by
A compilation of the most important customer experience research, stats and studies from the past year.
As another year draws to a close, we take a look through some of the customer experience research and reports that caught us by surprise (or confirmed our worst fears!) in 2022. Some you may remember, some you may have missed... and some you may still be trying to forget!
Most companies are looking to overhaul their CX data strategies
Research by Harvard Business Review found that while the vast majority of those surveyed understand the importance and benefits of customer data, most agree that their existing programmes are simply not up to scratch – with 71% of brands want to improve their CX data strategies.
Virtually all (99%) of respondents admitted that to remain competitive in their industry, it is very important or extremely important that their organisation integrates customer data into their business processes. However, only 2% say they do this extremely successfully, and only 17% do this very successfully.
Moreover, the vast majority (94%) of respondents say being able to quickly adapt the customer experience strategy based on up-to-date customer activity is important for organisations like theirs, but just 42% are able to do this today.
Inflation causing service standards to slide?
The perceived standard of customer service in the UK is slipping in the wake of record inflation, according to a study by People 1st International.
A survey of over 2,000 working age adults revealed that close to half (41%) of the respondents believe that the standard of customer service they had received in the last 12-18 months had worsened.
People 1st speculates that this points to ‘skimpflation’ - a phenomenon whereby inflationary pressures and squeezed profit margins force firms to cut corners.
Disinterested staff and chatbots replacing human interactions were amongst the most commonly cited complaints of respondents who thought that the standard of customer service offered by firms is in decline.
Customer trust is tumbling due to inflationary price rises
A further impact of the economic instability, research by the Ello Group suggests that customer trust is eroding as prices are rising.
A survey of 1,000 consumers and 500 marketers found that 22% of respondents admitted that trust in the brands they usually buy from had declined, with almost a third (30%) of consumers saying that rising prices are impacting their trust in brands.
Unfortunately for the brands, this is not a case of bark without bite - one in five consumers revealed that they have switched supermarket, energy supplier, or mobile phone provider in the last 12-months.
A fifth of brands have let customer experience quality slip
And this decline in customer care quality is backed up by other studies. Research from Forrester found that customer experience quality has fallen for 19% of brands in 2022 - taking CX quality back to early 2020 levels.
The latest US 2022 Customer Experience Index rankings reported the highest proportion of brands to drop in one year since the inception of the survey seven years ago.
The report speculates that the dramatic drop is a result of a waning focus on customers - Forrester suggests that this year only 3% of US companies are 'customer obsessed' (i.e. putting customers at the centre of their leadership, strategy, and operations), representing a decrease of 7% from the previous year.
Elsewhere, industries such as airlines, auto manufacturers, and hotels also suffered losses in their average CX Index scores as a result of environmental factors like rising costs, supply issues, and staffing shortages.
The investment industry is the only industry to see CX improvement in 2022.
Customer service is more important to customers than ever
Despite this drop in customer service quality, when MyCustomer conducted a study into contact centre quality, well over a third (39%) of consumers polled reported that contact centre customer service has become more important to them since the pandemic.
But their preferences and expectations have changed considerably during that time. Digital service channels are being used a lot more than before the pandemic - and in particular apps, live chat and social - while a fifth are using the phones less for support queries.
At the same time, up to a half of consumers also believe that empathy, friendliness, a quick response, and only having to explain themselves a single time are all much more important parts of the overall service experience than before the pandemic.
And while customers believe that the general standard of service being delivered across different contact channels is fairly strong (with the notable exception of automated chatbots), many feel that contact centres are falling short when it comes to some key areas - these include empathy, providing a quick response and 24/7 support. But the service experience quality that contact centres were deemed poorest at delivering was ensuring that customers only have to explain their query a single time, with over a third (37%) giving them a poor rating.
And this could spell disaster for some businesses because customers say that the contact centre service experience is now more important to them than before the pandemic, and most will stop doing business with a brand after only a single bad experience with a contact centre.
Contact centres are close to breaking point
But while MyCustomer's research suggests that in general customers feel that the general standard of contact centre service is fairly good, businesses admit that they are at breaking point trying to keep up with expectations of them.
A Censuswide survey of 1,000 industry leaders revealed that contact centres are struggling to keep pace with 'unrealistic' demands - 89% believe that their organisation has unrealistic expectations of them, and 86% do not believe that they can deliver software updates quickly enough to meet demand.
With both chat volume (64%) and call volume (60%) on the rise for UK contact centres, it is unsurprising that 59% of respondents agreed that contact volumes are spiralling beyond their capacity to handle them.
Moreover, 65% of contact centres have seen an increase in agent attrition, 68% have reported escalated customer churn, and 61% have admitted that the frequency of outages has increased over the last 12 months.
There has also been a rise in customer frustration due to an increase in call wait times and abandoned calls. These frustrations have had a detrimental effect on frontline customer service employees, with 67% of those working in UK contact centres stating that their mental health has been negatively impacted.
Over half of customer interactions are ignored by brands on messaging apps
These strains are particularly showing when it comes to interactions on some channels, it would seem. A study from Sinch found that 53% of consumers have been ignored by brands via messaging apps or social media channels over the last 12 months. That’s despite 89% of consumers saying they want to engage in two-way conversations with brands across social media and messaging channels.
The survey of 3,000 consumers also found that 25% of respondents had said it typically takes a day or more to get a response from brands via either messaging apps or direct messages via social media. Messaging apps dominate usage stats when it comes to personal communication channels. Over 100bn WhatsApp messages are sent around the globe every day.
90% of vulnerable consumers struggling to receive support
Of even greater concern is the impact being felt by the most vulnerable in society. Despite an estimated 40% of the population falling within the vulnerable customer category, research by MaxContact suggests that existing services and protocols for vulnerable customers are not fit for service.
Based upon the findings of a survey of 1,000 vulnerable customers within the UK who had recently contacted a customer service team for help, nine out of ten (90%) of the respondents reported that they struggled to access customer support.
And as well as difficulties accessing customer support, those vulnerable customers who did manage to get in touch also faced significant problems.
51% said that they were treated unfairly, and their needs were not accommodated, with 52% having to abandon attempts to solve their problem due to the difficulties they encountered.
According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), 27.7 million adults in the UK fall under their definition of a vulnerable customer. This includes having poor health, experiencing negative life events, low financial resilience, or having low decision-making capabilities.
Service complaints hit an all-time high - but customer satisfaction the highest on record!
Overall, then, perhaps little wonder that the volume of service complaints has high an all-time high. when The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) published its latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) earlier this year, it revealed that the number of customers experiencing a problem had risen to 17.3%, up 2.4% from July 2021 - making it the highest level since the survey’s inception in 2008.
However, it's not all bad news for customer service, with the research also reporting that customer satisfaction is actually rising as a result of dramatic improvements in complaint handling.
The research found that shortages and supply chain issues were instrumental in the increased number of customer complaints, with those surveyed citing the quality or reliability of goods/services, and the suitability and availability of goods/services as the main causes of customer problems.
Despite the record level of customer complaints, the UKCSI number is actually up 1 point from July 2021, with it currently sitting at 78.4 – the same as it was in January 2022. This increase in customer satisfaction levels is largely due to complaint handling – with complaint outcomes, speed of resolving complaints, the attitude of staff, and the handling of complaints all seeing significant improvements over the last 12 months. As a result, the UKCSI number is currently the highest it has been since CSI records began!
CX programmes are ignoring core customer concerns, finds report
Overall, however, there's no question that the majority of research from 2022 provides a sobering reminder of the work that still needs to be done - even if resources and budgets are being squeezed.
No study sums this up more than a report by Havas CX, which surveyed 50,000 consumers across nine markets (US, UK, France, China, Brazil, Turkey, India, Portugal and Spain), finding that a global average of 60% of consumers believe the brands they interact with are not “centred on their needs as a customer.”
Now in its fourth year, the 2022 X Index report compiles ratings of all interactions that consumers may have with a brand throughout their journey, with consumers ranking 35 discriminating customer experience criteria through statements such as: “I trust this brand,” “This brand always keeps its commitments,” “The staff is expert and knowledgeable”, and “The purchase process is seamless”.
And the report indicates that over half of consumers believe that organisations are out of step with shifting customer expectations and customer needs.
After two decades of experience working as a journalist and editor covering business and technology, including over 15 years as editor of MyCustomer, Neil now works as senior content manager at skills-based workforce management platform provider Spotted Zebra. ...