Companies don’t take young complainers seriously

4th Sep 2014

In the battleground for customer loyalty, it seems strange that some businesses might not take certain customer demographics as seriously as others.

However, research from KANA suggests complaints about brands by younger people are being given less attention than those made by more senior citizens, leading to a far greater number of people aged 35 or under confirming they are less loyal customers than older generations.

In a survey of over 2,000 consumers, KANA found that, in total, 30% of people feel they have become less loyal to brands in the past five years.     

Yet, when delving further into the reasons for their loyalty waning, it found that almost half (48%) of respondents said ‘repeating information’ to brands, especially during the complaint process, was often a root cause, with only one in three people under the age of 35 saying they regularly received resolutions to their problems with brands at the first point of contact, compared with 64% of people aged 65 and over.

The disparity in service quality for different age groups is clearly driving younger consumers elsewhere, too. Of those who feel less loyal to retail brands, 37% of 18-to-24-year-olds cited service as the key factor compared with just 20% of those aged 65 and older.

“By forcing consumers to repeat themselves, often several times over a prolonged period, organisations not only deliver inefficient service that costs them money—they seriously affect future consumer loyalty," says Steven Thurlow, head of worldwide product strategy for KANA. "The need for repetition shows not only poor management of customer data, channels and context, but more fundamentally a lack of ownership of the consumer’s problem and lack of appreciation for their effort levels.”

"The younger generation has higher expectations of digital channels, collaborative and social communications and asks ‘how hard can it be.’ They won’t take seriously an organisation that is unable to do the basics right, and these expectations are rising all the time.”

Another issue for businesses trying to deal with the complaint process appears to be a lack of understanding of how customers use different channels to communicate with brands. Again, repetition is the concern, with the majority of respondents highlighting the frustration of businesses failing to acknowledge conversations had through different channels:

“When you have an issue, you want to speak to someone who knows your back history and is able to take action on your behalf,” Thurlow adds.

“Repetition causes frustration and makes customers feel devalued or, worse, completely ignored. Without a true sense that different channels of communication are linked, people feel that they are wasting their time and, ultimately, this leads to an erosion of loyalty in the brand.” 

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