Increasingly demanding consumers on customer experience
BETC Fullsix's Customer Experience Barometer, conducted for the past four years, measures the criteria that contribute most to the effectiveness of customer relations for 500 brands (including digital natives). The indicators for 2022 point to the emergence of a more effective customer experience when it combines functionality and emotion.
"The X Index 2022 defines a new era where the customer experience takes on its full meaning by integrating citizens' expectations. Of course, brands must still meet functional criteria with efficient customer service, but to be recognised among the best, they will have to go further and take concrete action beyond their commitments", analyses Sébastien Houdusse, chief strategy officer BETC Fullsix. Increased consumer expectations of trust, sustainability and inclusion are now impacting the evaluation of customer experience, with brands being evaluated on the concrete actions they take to create a welcoming experience for all, shifting the traditional idea of customer experience towards a civic experience.
The heart of the experience is the brand's image
By aggregating the evaluations of all the interactions that consumers can have with a brand throughout their journey (from brand image to customer relations, to the purchase journey, to the experience with the product or service), the barometer reveals that brand image is the main discriminating factor in all countries, with a score ranging from 41% (Turkey score) to 54% (Spain score) between countries. It reaches a score of 50% in France. Only 40% of consumers globally (and only 29% in France) think that the brands they interact with are "focused on their needs as a customer".
Trust, inclusion and speed of response
The barometer highlights 4 key findings. Firstly, trust in the brand. This is the most important criterion for all countries, demonstrating the importance of creating the conditions for trust throughout the customer journey. This year, in all countries, the main discriminating criterion is "I trust this brand", which represents 31% of the X Index score for bricks and clicks brands in France, 30% in the US and up to 42% for pure player brands in the UK.
How do we trigger this feeling in consumers? Brands build trust by keeping their commitments to customers and being present in times of crisis. For example, brands that optimised their shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic performed better; these optimisations involved moving many traditionally physical services online and taking advantage of new platforms to integrate a social dimension and build community.
Secondly, the notion of inclusion comes into play. This starts with taking care of its employees, ensuring that the user experience is welcoming to all (top 10 discriminators in three countries, including England and France) and instilling a sense of community around the brand's actions.
Consumers rate brands at every stage of the journey, including how they treat their frontline employees. "This brand makes me feel part of a community" is in the top 10 in four of the nine countries, including China and Spain.
Speed of execution is praised. Customer service is now defined by the speed of response to consumer requests. "Customer service responds quickly to my requests" is discriminating in 6 of the 9 countries, it comes 3rd for bricks and clicks brands in the US and 4th in China. Responding quickly has never been more essential as consumers have become intolerant of waiting times. When it comes to brand salespeople, consumers expect them to be not only efficient but also as informed as possible, as everyone has become an expert consumer thanks to digital.
The final touch
The final lesson is "the little extra that makes the difference". When it comes to satisfying customer needs, it has become essential for brands to give extra, sometimes unexpected attention to make a difference. A key element in going the extra mile is to ensure that the experience is personalised to expectations. Indeed, the criterion of personalisation is the third most important factor for pure players in the US and France, and the fourth in Brazil.