Poor CX will kill brand loyalty: study

Even your most loyal customers will not tolerate mediocre experiences.

That’s one one of the key findings in a new CMO Council study, which found that 47 percent of loyal customers will stop doing business with a brand that provides “poor, impersonal or frustrating” experiences. While the study did find that most customers are fairly satisfied with the overall state of experiences they get from brands, many customers indicated that their patience will not last forever. In fact, 36 percent of customers are already frustrated that they’re not being treated like the loyal customers they are.

The report, conducted in partnership with SAP Hybris, reiterates the growing importance of customer experience. But it’s also another reminder that many companies are not doing a great job of meeting customer expectations. Just earlier this year, a separate study from Forrester found that CX improvements across all industries have stagnated or deteriorated in the last 12 months.

So why are many brands not acing the CX game? Lack of customer insight might be to blame.

A customer-expectation disconnect

Many brands are striving to build an omnichannel presence, but that strategy may not be the best way to maximize customer satisfaction. The CMO Council found that consumers would rather see brands focus on several key channels rather than encounter mediocrity across all of them. Only 12 percent of customers who participated in the study said recognizing their history with the brand at every touchpoint was critical. Only 10 percent said multiple touchpoints add value to their experience.

Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at the CMO Council, explains, “today, the differentiator isn’t whether we are able to individualize an experience, but rather having the insight and intelligence to know where, when and how a customer expects to be greeted with value and relevance.”

The report highlights a growing disconnect between what brands think consumers want and what consumers say is important. It has never been more critical to engage directly with consumers to understand the end-to-end customer journey and eliminate pain points in the buying process.

Connection, not perfection

The good news for brands: customers are willing to cut brands some slack. Customers don’t expect perfection, but they want great service. More than 50 percent of customers said they expect a quick response to complaints and suggestions, and 47 percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to help if needed.

That said, customer preferences are always evolving, and companies need to nurture strong customer relationships in order to drive long-term growth. While the CMO Council’s study found that consumers today value accessibility and responsiveness, those viewpoints can change. Brands must pay close and frequent attention to the voice of their customers. What is trendy or had worked in the past many not continue to keep the customer happy in the future.

Get closer to your customers now

In an age when customers expect a lot from brands, CX is starting to trump loyalty. While consumers are still willing to reward good brand behavior, their goodwill will not last forever. The CMO Council / SAP Hybris study flags the potential for significant differences between what brands are working on and what consumers actually want. Brands must ultimately challenge their own assumptions about what customers expect—or risk losing the CX game.

Read more: 6 Steps to Customer Service Perfection on Social