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The shocking stats that shook the world of CX in 2019


A compilation of the most important customer experience research, stats and studies from the past year. 

25th Nov 2019
Managing editor
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Every year, customer-centric professionals are bombarded with countless pieces of research, stats and studies. 

As 2019 comes to a close, we've compiled a list of some of the statistics from this past year that have been of most interest to us and our audience. Some make for interesting talking points. While others are cause for concern!

Consumers care more about experience than price

In 2017 a Walker study predicted that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Unusually for these kind of ambitious forecasts, this one could come to pass (with the vast caveat that it depends largely on the product/market/service in question).

Earlier this year Merkle conducted a purchase behaviour study of 500 US consumers to analyse how and why customer experience affects where consumers choose to spend their money. The research – detailed in its Experience Impact report - found that 66% of consumers care more about experiences than price when choosing a brand from which to purchase.

But that finding could send a shiver of fear down the spine of many organisations because…

One in five brands admit they’ll never understand their customers

In our latest podcast, CXPA leader and all-round customer experience expert Annette Franz spoke at length about the importance of understanding your customers and the competitive disadvantage businesses are at if they don’t have insight into their clients’ preferences, behaviours, emotions and desires. She’s so passionate about it, that it’s the topic of her latest book: Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience.

But research from experience analytics firm Clicktale suggests that not only is there a large proportion of organisations that lack customer understanding, but many of them believe that this will be a permanent problem. In its Defining Digital Experience study, which surveyed 200 marketing and CX professionals working in some of the world’s leading brands in the UK and the US, it reveals that 20% of organisations feel they will “never truly understand” their customers’ buying decisions.

The report concludes that this lack of ability to understand customers is hindering brands’ chances of securing customer loyalty and damaging potential sales.

Other research tells a similar story. An HBR Analytic Services study sponsored by Focusvision, found that nearly all respondents (98%) acknowledge that understanding the customer is  crucial for effective CX management - yet despite this, under a quarter (23%) of respondents reported that they understood their customers and why they act the way they do.

Contact centre calls driving customers round the u-bend

Every year has its fair share of research demonstrating in colourful terms how painful it is for customers to call contact centres for service support - and 2019 didn’t disappoint.

In a survey of 3,000 UK consumers by bold360, for instance, 40% of respondents said they would rather wait for water to boil than sit on hold with customer service or support, while 20% added they would rather give up sex for a week than be left in a contact centre queue.

Elsewhere, a Pegasystems survey of 12,500 global customers, found another imaginative way to demonstrate that dealing with customer service is one of the most painful experiences in our day-to-day lives. The vendor reported that of the 89% of consumers who expressed dissatisfaction at having to contact customer service, 67% said that they would rather clean the toilet than have to speak with a call centre agent.

Increasingly foul-mouthed customers making agent’s lives a misery

Unfortunately, evidence suggests that this reluctance to deal with customer support is increasingly resulting in hostile behaviour targeted at contact centre agents.

A review of more than 82 million contact centre calls by CallMiner revealed that with callers becoming more frustrated with issue resolution, a growing number are using offensive language to verbalise their displeasure.

In a huge 87% of the interactions in which customers used swear words, such language was employed for the duration of the call, with the most common profanities being f**k and (bull)s**t. These were employed in 23% and 22% instances respectively.

Ironically, these offensive tirades are ensuring that contact centre calls are taking up more of the customers’ time. Such calls lasted an average of 497 seconds (8.3 minutes) longer than those not peppered with bad language, with swear-free calls on average lasting 300 seconds.

Jeff Gallino, CallMiner’s founder and chief technology officer, warned of the impact that this has on agent morale: “Offensive language use in the contact centre should be a KPI [key performance indicator] for every company as it negatively impacts customer engagement as well as the working environment for your agents. Any way you slice it, when swearing becomes prevalent, you are losing money.”

Spending on CX will soar in the coming years

Perhaps as a direct result of the influx of furious, foul-mouthed customers, businesses are intending to increase investment in their customer experience in the coming years. According to research by IDC, European spending on CX will surge from $97 billion in 2018 to hit $128 billion by 2022, driven by investments in customer care and support, in particular, as organisations seek an opportunity for competitive differentiation.

“Customer experience is the top business priority for European companies in 2019,” said Andrea Minonne, senior research analyst, IDC customer insight & analysis in Europe. “Businesses are moving from traditional ways of reaching out to customers and are embracing more digitised and personalized approaches to delivering empathy where the focus is on constantly learning from customers.”

In other research reflecting these findings, market research and consulting firm Reports and Data predicted that businesses from around the globe will be upping their spending on customer experience technologies over the next decade, in a bid to increase customer understanding, improve loyalty, reduce churn rate, and meet consumer demand for more personalised experiences. The report forecasts that the CX application market will grow by nearly 30% over the next seven years, rising from its current valuation of $6.17 billion today, to a huge $38.5 billion by 2026. 

Retail and ecommerce firms are expected to be the biggest investors in CX application suites, which includes technology such as sales and marketing automation, customer support helpdesk, product configuration and reporting and customer analytics software.

Few organisations are able to quantify the impact of their CX programmes

While CX expenditure is anticipated to rise for many companies in the coming years, demonstrating how this investment will translate into quantifiable returns may be more elusive. In a survey of more than 700 CX, marketing and analytics professionals conducted by Pointillist, most respondents admitted that their biggest customer experience challenge is that their organisations are unable to link CX metrics to quantitative business KPIs such as revenue and churn. Overall, only 15% of respondents reported that they are satisfied with their organisation’s ability to quantify the impact of customer experience on business KPIs.

The findings, detailed in the 2019 State of Customer Journey Management & CX Measurement report, indicate that while survey-based metrics such as NPS and CSAT are being used to gauge customer satisfaction levels, most customer experience teams are unhappy with their ability to link these metrics to business KPIs such as revenue, customer lifetime value and churn. And as a result of being unable to quantify CX ROI, many respondents said they struggled to identify and prioritise high impact opportunities to improve customer experience, while most said they were unable to justify the increase in budget and resources they require to execute their CX initiatives – potentially putting those CX investment plans in peril…

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By Sue Duris
07th Apr 2020 07:27

The above inconsistencies are EXACTLY why Forrester predicted 25% of CX professionals will lose their jobs and the number of CX execs will grow by 25% in 2020!

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