Survey: Customer Experience Matters More Than Stores Know

It’s the time of year when most people find plenty of reasons to hate shopping, whether it’s the crowds and mayhem of physical stores or a slow-loading page in ecommerce.

But a new Retail Pain Index from Qualtrics, an experience management company, finds that an alarming 75% of people say that a single bad interaction is enough to make them defect from a brand.

That magnitude surprised Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics. “We read or hear about poor customer experiences all the time in the age of social media, but to see it quantified in this study just solidified what we all know from these anecdotes: Every experience matters.”

The survey, based on responses from 1,000 adults in the U.S., asked people to rank problems from most to least irritating, for both in-store and online shopping. If at least a third of respondents say they’d ditch a retailer if they encountered that problem, Qualtrics is classing it as a deal-breaker.



For shopping in physical stores, the only true deal-breaker is an interaction with a rude employee. For online shoppers, a package that never arrives, fake reviews and products that don’t look like they did online are enough to cause a break-up.

Woman are more troubled by rudeness than men are (42% vs. 37% respectively), as are those on the West Coast versus those on the East Coast (50% vs. 35%). 

Maughan concedes that just because a consumer says they’d give up on a retailer because of a bad experience doesn’t mean she’ll follow through. After all, it’s hard to break up with your supermarket -- or with Amazon.

“In the heat of the moment, people say or do things that they may not sustain over time,” he tells Marketing Daily. “But people will spend more, be more loyal, recommend the brand more when experiences are good. Retailers who prioritize great customer experiences are growing faster and taking market share from those that don’t.”

The study also asked respondents what they like most about shopping. For physical retailers, the joy comes from the ability to try on or test an item, getting out of the house, an unexpectedly low price and spending time with friends and family. People were less enthusiastic about the joys of online shopping, but still cited the advantages of a larger product selection, qualifying for free shipping -- and not having to leave the house.

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