Are Marketers Being Realistic About Their Customer Experience?

Marketers and consumers feel differently about the delivery of an excellent customer experience. To reconcile this, marketers should turn their attention to consumers’ top concerns, such as privacy and personalization.

In the US, almost half of marketers think they’re delivering an “excellent” customer experience, according to January 2019 research from The Harris Poll. But fewer than a quarter of consumers felt the same.

While marketer (over)confidence was lower in Canada and the UK, the degree of disagreement was similar. Overall, marketers were almost twice as likely as consumers to give themselves high marks on experience.

For its Customer Experience Index, The Harris Poll asked respondents to rate individual dimensions—privacy, personalization, customer understanding and omnichannel/consistency—on a 25-point scale, with a score of 25 indicating mastery. In every category, marketers ranked their abilities at least 3.5 points higher than did consumers.

Privacy, the concern emphasized most in the study, received 4.1 fewer points from consumers than from marketers. Additionally, 60% of respondents said they’d be less likely to shop or use services in the future if a company sent their personal information to other companies.

In a November 2018 survey of 1,000 US adult smartphone users by Jebbit, 35.9% of respondents said that being asked for too much information leads them to distrust a brand.

But if there is a value exchange, consumers are more likely to give up their information. Per The Harris Poll data, 54% of consumer respondents said they would be willing to share their personal information for a more tailored experience.

That personalized experience is one that 63% of consumers agree is now part of the standard service they expect from a brand or retailer, and it's one that consumers ranked 4.2 points lower than marketers did on the Customer Experience Index. Seventy-three percent of consumers said brands are struggling to meet customers' rising expectations for a personalized experience, vs. 43% of marketers who felt the same.

Marketers should recognize and work to rectify these gaps, or they will run the risk of losing business. The Harris Poll found that 37% of consumers would abandon a brand that doesn’t offer personalized experiences. However, companies that do will be rewarded. A December 2018 survey from Adobe found that 51% of US digital device users would be likely to make a purchase as a result of personalized brand content, and 34% would make a purchase they hadn’t planned to due to enhanced recommendations.

Closing the gap in opinions toward the customer experience will require marketers to preposition their efforts—as well as greatly improve self-awareness.

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