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Seven stats that shook the world of customer management in 2017

1st Dec 2017
Managing editor
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Every year, customer-centric professionals are bombarded with research and studies. 

So we've compiled a list of some of the statistics that have been of most interest to us and our audience over the last 12 months. Some make for interesting reading. While others are very concerning!

1. CX has stalled drastically for British brands

UK brands may be ploughing billions of pounds into improving their relationship with consumers, but according to the KPMG Nunwood 2017 Customer Experience Excellence study, they are failing to keep up with increasingly high expectations.

The report reveals that rather than improving, the overall performance score for British brands has hit the lowest level in the eight-year history of KPMG Nunwood’s report, dropping from 7.33 in 2016 to 7.08 this year.

David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said: “Our latest research illustrates that the vast majority of UK brands are struggling to keep pace with rising customer expectations, and it is clear that these expectations are playing an increasing role in determining a customer’s advocacy for, and loyalty to a brand.” 

And customers agree with KPMG Nunwood's assessment!

One in five customers claim customer experience standards have declined in the retail industry in the last year, according to research commissioned by Engage Hub, which revealed that retailers are under-delivering on customer experience, with 22% of respondents indicating standards have declined in the last year.

Consumers believe that good customer service from retailers is: friendly (87%), helpful (85%), quick to solve queries (58%), and rapid to respond to queries in the first place (57%).

A poor instore experience (25%), delivery issues (18%) and a lack of communication (16%) all caused consumers to stop shopping with retailers in the last year

Simon Brennan, VP Sales Europe at Engage Hub, notes: “How retailers manage their customers’ experience is becoming a key competitive differentiator as the complexity of how it needs to be delivered increases. From tailoring offers to individual consumers with targeted campaigns, to a better range of delivery options, it’s crucial for customer experience professionals to better understand how the right customer experience will drive better loyalty.”

2. Less than a fifth of customers feel valued by brands

Despite 90% of marketers claiming that they are “customer-centric” in their approach, only 17% feel valued by brands, according to a new report from Qualtrics.

The research, based on insights from 250 marketing professionals and 250 consumers, reveals a clear gap between the experiences that marketers are delivering and what today’s customers expect.

While 81% of marketers agree it is extremely important to understand their customers, only 46% of consumers say they are understood by the brands they usually buy from, and only 60% say brands put the customer first.

3. There is an alarming reliance on untrained informal service staff 

According to research conducted by 8x8, for every ‘formal’ contact centre worker in the UK, there are a further six that have responsibility for dealing with enquiries but have received no formal training.

A study last year by ContactBabel estimates that there are 766,000 people working in contact centres in the UK. But 8x8’s research suggests that a further 4.6 million additional staff deal with customer service enquiries, that lack the support or training as those who work in service full-time.

This is despite the demands on service staff becoming more complex.

As part of the report, Censuswide polled 500 of these “unofficial” service staff - employees who deal with customer service enquiries in businesses but do not work in a customer service department or contact centre.

And many voiced concerns related to the complexity of the role, particularly in light of the volume of channels that customers use to contact the business.

More than four in ten (46%) say they haven’t had enough training – or any at all – on how to deal with clients over the phone. But in addition to this, over half (51%) reported an increase in customers getting in touch via social media, email and webchat in recent months – and only a third (34%) reported they were very confident handling multiple service enquiries across different channels.

4. Nearly half of marketers don’t find Twitter useful anymore

Research has revealed that nearly half (46%) don’t see the use of Twitter anymore - with the main reason stated being “a lack of useful engagement”, on the platform.

A survey of more than 2,000 UK-based social media marketers, commissioned by Hopper HQ, found that as well as the lack of engagement, there were other issues harming the value of Twitter. Respondents cited ‘trolling’ and ‘negative users’ as reasons that they didn’t see the platform as a useful marketing platform.

Hopper HQ co-founder, Mike Bandar, said: “We know that Snapchat and Twitter have been decreasing in popularity, however to see such a small amount of people within marketing using them for client or employer marketing purposes is surprising. We know that there are fundamental issues with how certain social media channels work and how marketers can use them effectively, and I think our survey has uncovered some of the moving trends in the space.”

5. The majority of CMOs still can’t unify online and offline worlds 

The majority of marketers (85%) are still unable to tie together online and offline customer data, according to the CMO report by Conversant. And this is compounded by the admission that a mere 16% of CMOs are ‘very confident’ that they could identify the same person over multiple devices online, running the risk of alienating customers.

According to the survey of more than 60 international CMOs, only 15% of marketers are confident that they really know their customers, and almost two-thirds (65%) of them do not track both online and offline sales.

Elliott Clayton, VP of Media UK of Conversant, notes: “With 17% of all retail spend occurring online, it’s essential to understand what’s going on offline. Data is such a vital asset for this, but only if it is used correctly – it’s tempting to rely on lazy metrics like clicks, but these simply don’t gauge return. And if you can’t identify your customers, nor identify incremental improvement from your marketing activity, then you don’t actually know who you’re communicating with and how these communications are affecting your business.”

6. More than half of Britons use ad-blockers

More  than three fifths of Britons who use online ad-blockers do so as they find internet advertisements “annoying”, with a further two fifths agreeing they are “intrusive” and “disruptive” and more than a third finding the ads they were targeted with as “irrelevant”; according to new research.

Research undertaken on behalf of affilinet polled a nationally representative sample of 2,043 British adults, as part of a wider study into online consumer behaviour, media consumption and shopping habits.

All participants were initially asked the question, “Do you use an ad-blocker?” to which 20.5% answered “Yes, all the time”, 33.9% said “Yes, sometimes” and 45.6% said “No”. 

7. Customers are more likely to trust online ads if they understand the targeting technology

Customers are more likely to trust online adverts if they understand the technology being used to target them. The finding suggests that a common cognitive bias could be causing less savvy consumers to become unduly alarmed at retargeting adverts.

A study of 2,000 regular internet users, conducted by inbound marketing agency Digital Media Stream, found that consumers are three times more likely to trust retargeted online advertisements and respond positively (adverts for sites or products the user has previously viewed) if they understand the marketing technology being used.

56% of those who understand why they’re being targeted say they’re ‘comfortable’ with seeing adverts based on their previous browsing behaviour.

But only 16% of those with low comprehension of how cookies work said the same, more than three times less than the high comprehension group.

17% of users with low comprehension said they can find it “alarming” to see an advert that is clearly targeting them based on previous browsing behaviour.

Simon Leeming, commercial director and co-founder of Digital Media Stream, believes openness around how digital channels are used for marketing can be a positive thing for consumers.

“As the research suggests, distrust can arise from consumers simply not understanding why they are seeing a certain piece of content. Or worse, thinking they understand what’s going on when they don’t. For example, if you have no understanding of the mechanics behind why you’re seeing a certain advert, it can be quite alarming to see a retargeted advert.

“I think as an industry, we have a responsibility to be as open as possible with consumers on how we use their data and how the various marketing channels work. If trust increases as a result, that’s only going to benefit the industry as a whole.”



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Steven Walden
By Steven Walden
04th Dec 2017 10:15

Thanks Neil. Part of the problem - at least for me - is the failure to realise that CEM is a strategy and an over-reliance and focus on opex reduction. Companies need to ask 'are they an experience brand or an efficiency brand'. If they are not 'that's fine'. If they are 'follow the strategic direction'. Which means work with the customer (the principles of relationship) not delivering CX in a box...

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By PaulineAshenden
11th Dec 2017 09:04

What the majority of these stats show is that customer experience is not easy - and that a large number of brands are failing to deliver what customers demand when it comes to CX. As expert Martin Hill-Wilson writes in this blog post, it all shows that omnichannel engagement is not the done deal that people assume.

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