In an increasingly digital world, customers are becoming more discerning. They expect top-of-the-line products, personalised offers and rewards, and to have their queries resolved immediately, whether online, via text message or over the phone (or even all three).  

Attracting customers is becoming harder to achieve, with competition high and creative ad campaigns found at every turn. But what some businesses may not know – from retailers and telecom companies to healthcare and financial services – is why their current customers are leaving them. 

Here are the reasons why consumers are abandoning their favourite brands, and what companies can do to stop customer disloyalty and ensure customer satisfaction for years to come: 

Customer disloyalty  

According to a survey in collaboration with Omdia, NICE found that the main reasons for customer disloyalty in the past year were: 

  • Poor service (65%) 
  • Lack of a personalised experience (59%) 
  • No self-service capabilities (51%) 
  • The company doesn’t know their interests or needs (47%) 
  • Poor product quality (36%) 
  • No digital capabilities (21%) 
  • Competition had better products/offers (17%) 

As businesses grow – and as the UK services sector is expected to pick up in 2024 – keeping up with customer demands can be difficult. Some companies are still living in the past, depending on legacy technology, which can negatively impact the level of service they offer (and in the long run, customer satisfaction). In fact, 35% of businesses’ contact centre agents say the biggest challenge they face is that they don’t have access to modern digital tools, leading to 38% getting bored answering the same questions over and over, and 58% noting that customers take their anger and frustrations out on staff. 

Emerging technologies, particularly AI, can help bridge the (hidden) gaps in service, which often stem from the disconnect between customer expectations, business demands, and the quality of service delivered. These gaps can be harmful to all involved, as without the right tools, they can encounter higher operational costs and lower customer satisfaction.  

Bridging the gap between you and your customers 

Numerous perception gaps exist between agents and leaders, which ultimately affect the customer experience. The two main gaps that businesses face are: 

1. Services falling short of expectations  

Often agents are not aware of, or are well equipped to understand, customer needs and preferences. This tends to be a result of a lack of training, resources, necessary technology or integrated data that allows them or proactively respond. AI analyses every customer interaction, gaining insights into customer behaviour, enabling agents to tailor interactions effectively and improve the quality of service.  

2. Agents lacking customer insight  

Another hidden gap is the disparity between customer expectations and the service offered. This can result in customer dissatisfaction and costly complaints. AI and digital technologies, such as chatbots, can help by providing rapid, consistent and conversational responses to routine enquiries, thus offering quick and convenient service.  

By aligning customer expectations with customer engagement through connected data, understanding customer preferences, and digitising operations, companies can improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and ultimately, drive better business outcomes.  

Providing the right support  

Often, competing priorities get in the way of providing excellent customer experience, prompting organisations to find the right balance in order to keep both customers – and agents – happy.

In this day and age, knowing your customer is key: consumers are frustrated by agents not being able to track their issues and history without transferring them or putting them on hold to look up their information, with 40% of respondents saying that frictionless communications channels are valuable to them.  

Open communication will also keep your customers loyal, as actively seeking and listening to customer feedback, and leveraging analytics to understand consumer behaviour, will make them feel heard and understood. Further, providing a personalised experience is critical to keeping customer dissatisfaction at bay, with 59% of consumers saying a lack of personalisation negatively affects their loyalty, and 45% of agents recognising that AI-engagement technologies enable personalisation in the customer support journey.  

And as is the case in any relationship, if things go wrong, your customers will likely tell someone. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents say they have posted about a bad experience on social media or in an online review, 49% have told friends and family about their negative experience, and 57% have taken it straight to the top, complaining directly to a supervisor. You’ll therefore want to prevent any gaps from widening as soon as they become apparent to stop word from spreading about the poor customer service they’ve received. 

Make up – don’t break up 

When it comes to customer satisfaction, problems arise when there is a mismatch between consumer expectations and the support offered. Addressing perception gaps between customers and brands is crucial, and requires a seamless flow of communication, up-to-date digital solutions and listening to customer needs in order to both understand their behaviour and meet their needs. 

Digital opens the door for deeper customer experience and loyalty, with AI holding the power to transform contact centres into intelligent hubs. And everyone is on board with this transformative technology:

  • 84% of customers believe it will improve their experience
  • 62% of agents engage more proactively with AI
  • 71% of businesses leaders want the tool to handle more calls per hour – providing customers with faster resolutions and reducing stress on agents. 

Overall, AI and data-driven decision-making can help organisations build and maintain loyalty, enhance contact centre support and close any gaps which hinder a business’s close connection with its customers – as well as its long-term success. 

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