New research by Qualtrics shows making sure the customer experience matches consumer expectations of the brand will be vital to retaining customers in 2022.
Over half the 1,000 respondents to the Qualtrics study (54%) in Australia and New Zealand said they had switched brands because the customer experience they received did not meet the brand promise. Qualtrics says this suggests that despite their best intentions, many organisations are failing to live their brand values in the experiences they deliver.
A lower product or service quality (88%) and dissatisfaction with customer service (68%) were also leading reasons people would stop purchasing from a brand - ahead of price increases (33%).
"Great customer experiences start with brand," says Qualtrics APJ senior manager for Customer, Brand - Design Experience, Lisa Khatri.
"Your brand is defined by everything the organisation does. It's embodied in the product in the customer journey, and it is delivered by happy employees who are enabled to provide superior services. Take a delivery company, for example - if the company fails to meet a delivery window it promises to meet, employees will have to address issues that arise proactively.
Their research demonstrates the clear link between customer experience and brand experience in influencing buying decisions across Australia and New Zealand. She says organisations that fail to live up to their promises and the expectations they create will be quickly found out, highlighting the importance of understanding, managing, and addressing consumers' expectations.
Experience key to trust and awareness
The importance of customer experience to brand is further demonstrated by the factors that increase brand trust in 2022, with the top care of customers. This was followed by maintaining reasonable pricing and taking care of employees. Not taking advantage of a crisis and going beyond recommended safety standards round out the top five.
The findings represent a slight change from the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, when taking care of employees and not taking advantage of a crisis were the top factors increasing brand trust. Taking care of customers was the third most popular reason.
Qualtrics says brands wanting to stay relevant in increasingly competitive marketplaces, product or service quality (83%), and customer service (74%) have twice the impact on consumers compared to marketing and advertising (34%) and responding to public events (30%).
"To align the brand and customer experience, organisations must first understand and articulate their purpose and how they will bring it to life, while ensuring they have the right systems and processes in place to deliver it," says Khatri.
"After this, it is about identifying the moments in the customer journey that have the biggest impact on their response - whether it's at the point of sale or the support received through the contact centre. Equipped with these insights, organisations can show up in the ways their customers expect when it matters most, ensuring their brand promise, purpose, and values guide every action they take."