Satisfaction Not Guaranteed: Brands And Consumers Differ On Experience

Marketers think they’re doing a fine job at delivering a superior customer experience. Consumers don’t agree.

A new study by the Harris Poll, commissioned by Redpoint Global, shows a large gap between the two groups. 

It begins with personalization — 37% of shoppers will stop doing business with a firm that doesn’t personalize the experience. And they don’t mean only addressing a person by name in an email.

The trouble is that the two sides don’t agree on the result. For instance, 34% of brands believe they are delivering an excellent customer experience. Only 18% of consumers feel the same way.

Moreover, 73% of consumers believe brands are struggling to personalize experiences. In contrast, only 43% of marketers admit to that.

It varies by country, though. U.S. marketers are the most bullish—48% believe their efforts are excellent, vs. 31% in the UK and 23% in Canada.

Similarly, 22% of U.S. consumers describe the average brand encounter as excellent, versus 15% in Canada and 13% in the UK. 



Among age cohorts, 27% of millennials use the term excellent, versus 17% of Gen Xers, 12% of boomers and 10% of seniors.

The Harris Poll surveyed 454 marketing professionals and 3,002 consumers in the U.S., Canada and the UK. The study lists four dimensions of the customer experience: measuring customer understanding, personalization, omnichannel and privacy.

Let’s look at personalization. What do marketers do to treat customers like individuals? Consumers say an effective brand:

  • Sends me special offers only available to me — 52%
  • Knows I am the same customer across all touchpoints (e.g., email, in-store, mobile, social media, call center) — 43%
  • Enables me to customize and control who, when, where and why the brand will interact with me — 42%
  • Sends me recommendations based on products I recently purchased or viewed — 36% 
  • Sends me reminders to purchase items I left in an online shopping card that I haven’t yet bought — 29%

One major issue is privacy. But it can also be an opportunity.

Of the consumers polled, 54% are willing to share personal data with brands in return for a more personalized experience.

Younger people are more likely to be very willing — that includes 72% of those in Gen Z, 70% of millennials, 59% of Gen Xers and 39% of boomers.

But they are not forgiving when a company errs — 57% are less likely to patronize a firm that sends their personal information to other companies. 

In addition, 89% are likely to switch brands if a firm is hacked and their email, name, phone number and other information is compromised. And 39% say this situation would be an absolute deal breaker. 

Also, 88% will jump if a company sells their data to other firms or marketing purposes without their permission. And 41% call this a deal breaker. 

The percentages are similar in instances where a company is hacked and credit card and other or transaction data is compromised. 

What’s keeping marketers from delivering great customer experiences?

  • Real-time engagement — 50%
  • Customer understanding — 48% 
  • Personalization — 44% 
  • Privacy — 44%
  • Single customer view — 37%
  • Omnichannel presence — 34%


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