A lot can happen in 10 years. In this article, we will explore the top 10 customer experience trends from the last decade.
In this Digital Age, a decade can seem even longer, the technological changes more significant, and their impact on customer expectations more dramatic.
The Institute of Customer Service has released its decade retrospective of customer service trends, which underlines the importance of offering intuitive, innovative and effortless customer experiences.
The 2010s started off with relatively high customer satisfaction rates, with previous investment in technology for compliance and service speed beginning to pay dividends. Indeed, the number of customers experiencing a problem with an organization dropped from 16.8% in 2008 to 10.8% in 2013.
Midway through the decade, however, most sectors began to experience a downturn in CSAT, caused by lower levels of investment in services and increasing customer expectations for convenience, speed and ease of doing business.
For the next few years, customer satisfaction rates increased and returned to their highest levels since 2013. Improvements were especially prevalent in traditionally lower rated sectors, including Utilities, Public Services, Telecommunications and Media and Transport, as companies, across sectors, recognised the need to improve their customer experience.
Unfortunately, however, the end of the decade didn’t prove as successful as the beginning, as once again customer satisfaction rates started flatlining, and in certain industries even declining.
Top 10 Customer Experience Trends
In no particular order, here are the top 10 customer experience trends from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index Decade Retrospective.
- Customers expect online interactions
2010’s introduction of mobile technologies, and subsequent ubiquity of mobile devices, has completely transformed how customers expect to be able to communicate, use services and complete transactions.
- Challengers are disrupters
New challengers have entered established markets, threatening existing institutions and business models, and impacting customer expectations. This is especially prevalent in the financial services sector, where challenger banks have firmly begun to disrupt the retail banking space. For example, challenger banks’ ability to offer niche, specialist, mobile-friendly CX tech has impacted how customers expect to be able to bank.
- Customers expect consistent experiences.
The popularity and success of brands like Amazon and Netflix have impacted how customers expect to be able to transact with their banks, telco providers, and their insurance and utilities companies. They expect that same ease of use and access, and convenience across platforms and industries.
- Trust becomes priority
From the horsemeat scandal in retail to mis-selling in the financial sector, the 2010s was characterised by a gradual erosion of trust in many organisations and institutions. As such, the last 10 years has seen a clear growth in the importance of ethics, sustainability and transparency. Gaining trust is absolutely paramount.
- CX must be more than functional
Customers now expect organisations’ CX tech to not only be functional but also be innovative and effortless to use. Laborious, uninspired and mediocre services, designed around business need and not the customer, are no longer acceptable. The best CX tech, therefore, should be enjoyed by the customer and cost-effective for the businesses.
- Customers expect to transact in their preferred channel
Forcing customers to communicate in a particular channel is no longer acceptable. This goes to show the importance of offering consistently high levels of service, regardless of whether in-person, online, or on the telephone. The UKCSI discovered that customers who used their preferred channel reported higher customer satisfaction rates (78.5), than those who didn’t (61.5).
- Customers come first
Imperative care of your customers and they will take care of you. The UKCSI discovered that achieving higher levels of customer satisfaction also delivers better financial results. For example, both Aldi and Ocado – the highest performers for customer satisfaction – experienced year on year sales growth, of 6.3% and 12.7% respectively. Similar results were seen among banks and building societies.
- Five a day
The five most important attributes that contribute to customer satisfaction are a company’s ability to offer positive Experiences, Handle Complaints, Customer Ethos, Emotional connection and Ethics.
- Is there a cost for excellent service?
The UKCSI certainly thinks so, discovering that 25.9% of customers prefer excellent service, even if it means paying more. Two of the main reasons customers gave for paying more was to be able to contact a company to gain support and advice. Only 14.2% of customers preferred a no-frills, low cost service, whereas most (59.9%) wanted a balance between price and service.
- Contact centres are still important
Customer contact centres are still hugely integral to customer experience, especially when complaining. The largest percentage of people (30.5%) still prefer picking up the phone when complaining, underlining the importance of ensuring your customer contact agents are using everything at their disposal (including technology to add clarity to an interaction) to appease the customer and make the interaction as satisfactory as possible.
As the war for customer loyalty is likely to be won on the customer satisfaction battlefield, it’s incredibly important for enterprises to be mindful of the customer experiences they are offering. Contact us to discover how our solutions can be used to deliver improved customer satisfaction (>80 NPS), 40% increase in sales conversions, and a 50% reduction in transaction times and costs.