’Tis the Season to Bust 3 Customer Experience Myths
The holidays are filled with myths, misconceptions and half-truths. We’ve all heard them: “Santa is real,” “I love this heinous sweater,” or “I’m not sure where that last cookie went.”
When it comes to the retail industry, myths about customer experience (CX) are some of the most pervasive. During the holiday season, it’s critical for busy retailers to debunk those misconceptions so they can deliver the best possible CX, at scale. The National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 196.7 million U.S. consumers shopped in-store and online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and holiday gift shopping hit $936.3 billion last year. With volumes this high, one long wait on the phone, interaction with a cranky representative, or delayed news of an out-of-stock item can ruin the holiday for customers and retailers alike. In fact, according to Salesforce, almost 90 percent of customers say that the service a company provides is just as important as its products.
It’s time for retailers to unlearn three of today’s most common false facts about CX. Busting these myths can help retailers face the cold, hard truths about what will keep customers loyal during the busy holiday season — and for years to come.
1. Lighten up, retailers have CX all figured out.
Many retailers might think they’ve got customer service down pat, but let’s not sugarcoat it: most don’t have CX all figured out.
According to a recent survey my company conducted on the state of customer experience, 76 percent of people say they expect better customer service than they get today, and 55 percent believe customer service is actually getting worse. In the last year, 33 percent of customers admitted to swearing at customer service; worse yet, 38 percent have just given up entirely and hung up the phone.
Some customers are so frustrated that instead of dealing with customer service, they would rather do all sorts of unpleasant things. Thirty-eight percent would rather get a cavity filled, 37 percent would rather plunge a toilet, and 32 percent would even rather take the SATs again.
Angry customers can damage reputations and lead to revenue loss. These findings present a clear wake-up call for retailers to prioritize consistently high-quality customer experiences — and the holiday season is the perfect time to do so.
2. One bad customer experience doesn’t really matter all that much.
Brands may think that one bad customer experience won’t do much damage. However, getting CX right is arguably the most important during retail’s busiest season — this turbulent stretch of the year can make or break a customer’s long-term loyalty. According to our survey, nearly all (98 percent) consumers say excellent CX makes them feel like valued customers. Moreover, 96 percent say they'll be more loyal to a company that provides excellent customer service.
But could it be true that just one bad customer experience matters? The answer is a resounding yes: PwC reports that 32 percent of customers will leave a brand after just one bad experience. Even when they love a brand, 59 percent will walk away after two bad experiences. In today’s crowded industry, retailers can’t afford to lose a customer to a competitor. The holidays are chaotic enough — CX should be the smoothest part of the journey.
3. Savvy retailers don’t need customer service robots this season.
Some companies assume that customers don’t like tech-driven CX options, such as chatbots or virtual assistants. When customers get on the phone, many don’t want to talk to a stiff robot or use unnatural “robot speak” to get their questions answered. Repeating “agent, agent, AGENT” on the phone leaves customers frustrated and cranky.
But not all “robots” are created equal. The majority (69 percent) of consumers in our survey say that they actually value tech-driven customer support options like virtual assistants — as long as those options help them resolve their issue quickly and easily. Furthermore, 57 percent say that those options empowered them to efficiently reach a resolution to a question or problem in the last year.
Clearly, CX technology can be extremely helpful if it’s executed correctly. Consumers value efficiency and effortless interactions, so it helps when they can bypass restrictive dial menus and speak to a virtual assistant using natural language that makes them feel comfortable.
Santa may not be real, but these findings most certainly are. Top-notch CX matters this holiday season. Retailers can’t afford to jeopardize customers’ loyalty with subpar customer service. The elves might be busy with other things, but retailers have some work to do to ensure they deliver customer experiences that customers crave.
Candy Digges is the senior vice president of customer success at Interactions, a provider of intelligent virtual assistants (IVA) that combine AI and human understanding to improve how businesses and consumers communicate.
As senior vice president of customer success, Candy leads the customer success and account management teams, ensuring that Interactions clients across industries reap the maximum business value of their IVA solutions. Candy is a results-driven leader who brings extensive experience in sales and project management and a proven track record of strengthening customer relationships. Prior to Interactions, Candy held leadership roles at Genesys, Angel.com, and XO Communications.