Happy Friday! ‘This week in CX’ brings you the latest roundup of industry news.

This week, we’re looking at research into the desire for human connection in customer service, how in-store devices affect retail CX, and why the banking sector is most trusted by customers.

Key news

  • Researching over 2,000 consumers across the UK, SAP Emarsys found that Gen Z (those aged 16-24) are more than twice as likely to return Valentine’s Day gifts as Gen X (aged 45-54); and six times as likely as Baby Boomers (those aged 55 or over). Men are also more likely to return gifts without telling their partners than women. And it’s not just Valentine’s Day. Nearly a quarter of Gen Zers have also secretly returned the gifts they received at Christmas. However, not every gift goes back to the store. According to the data, nearly half of Gen Zers (43%) don’t bother to return items if they cost less than £10, while 46% regift their unwanted items to others. SAP Emarsys’ data comes at a time when the rate of returns is rising, with 7 in 10 Brits (71%) returning items over the past 12 months. According to the latest estimates, these returns cost UK retailers a massive £60bn a year! 
  • CapeBPO, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape’s strategic business partner responsible for the growth and development of the BPO industry in Cape Town and the Western Cape, South Africa today announces a strategic partnership with CX and contact centre industry body, the Customer Experience Foundation (CXFO). The partnership has been formed to help CapeBPO’s aim to position South Africa as one of the leading CX BPO destinations in the world through access to CXFO’s innovative event and thought leadership programme that provides advice on regulatory and compliance matters, governance, and management.
  • According to Twilio’s latest Relationship Economy report, ‘love bombing’ tactics are proving to be a big a customer turn off when it comes to CX, while the rise of the ‘open relationship’ is seeing consumers playing the field with different brands, turning traditional customer loyalty on its head:

The end of “love-bombing” tactics

  • Over-targeted ads top the list of tactics that are giving marketing a bad name (45%), followed by over-communicating (35%)
  • Excessive calling and messaging was called out as a top brand ‘ick’ by over a quarter of UK consumers (28%)
  • More than nine in ten (92%) UK marketers are subsequently concerned about the erosion of consumer trust due to poor marketing practices

The rise of the “open relationship”: how to connect with consumers playing the field

  • Modern consumers have the freedom to play the field with different brands, citing they have an emotional affinity towards an average of 4.75 brands
  • With consumers seeking out variety, brands are struggling to keep pace and build customer loyalty. Keeping up with evolving customer needs and behaviours was the top challenge faced by marketing leaders (44%), ahead of knowing enough about their customers (42%), understanding their boundaries (42%), keeping things exciting (40%) and maintaining consistent experiences across channels (35%).
  • Mirroring qualities of romantic relationships: Despite non-monogamous behaviour, consumers universally value trustworthiness and consistency from brands, prioritising brand honesty (44%) and reliability (41%)

Commentary news share: Google without cookies is a struggle

It’s been a month since Google pulled the plug on these cookies on one percent of its browser’s traffic, and the marketing world’s reaction has been rather… underwhelming.

“In an era where data is king, first-party data reigns supreme. A staggering 72% of company revenue comes from existing customers, dwarfing lead generation. This seismic shift isn’t just about numbers but about understanding the heartbeat of customer engagement. Brands that harness first-party data aren’t just playing the game – they’re crafting hyper-personalised experiences that turn prospects into loyal customers and long-term revenue streams.

“But here’s the kicker – clinging to third-party data is like holding onto a ticking time bomb. With more than three-quarters (76%) of marketers bracing for impact as the cookie crumbles, marketers must adapt or face extinction.”

Laura Lane, Marketing Director UK&I at HubSpot

Connection news: Medallia announcements at its annual conference – Experience ‘24

  • Medallia announced a commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of what is required in The Paris Agreement.
  • Their four ground-breaking artificial intelligence (AI) innovations will fundamentally change how organisations can personalise customer and employee experiences. Ask Athena, Intelligent Summaries, Smart Response, and Themes will further enable leading brands to democratise insights, activate employees, and individualise experiences using cost-effective, responsible, and scalable AI and intelligent automation
  • Finally, they have announced the launch of Medallia Agile Research, a fully self-service advanced market research tool that will be fully integrated into Medallia Experience Cloud.

A Human Touchpoint is Still the Champion of Customer Service

With phone calls, email, chatbots, and social media all vying for attention, businesses must decide which channels to prioritise for customer service.New research from Gamma Communications, reveals the answer is quite simple: don’t underestimate the power of human connection.  

According to the new research, SMEs are dialled into the importance of human to human voice calls.. Over a third (35%) of SMEs surveyed considered voice calls to be their customers’ top communication choice. A further, 87% of SMEs agreed that voice calls and human to human connection were important to the customer experience their business provides, with half (51%) saying they are ‘very important’ to this service. 

This mirrors consumers’ expectations and desires when it comes to customer service. Over a third of Brits state that direct phone calls are their preferred means of communication with businesses and over 90% consider it important to be able to easily call a business customer service line. SME leaders are once again in step with consumers in this respect, as 87% consider it important to be able to call a business customer service line easily. 

Recognising the value of human touchpoints in customer service, SMEs believe exceptional customer service through human to human voice calls can fuel business expansion. 84% of SME leaders surveyed agreed that superior customer experience over the phone is likely to support the growth of their business.  

The research also reveals the significant impact human to human voice calls on customer loyalty. 80% of consumers say they’d stay with a business offering excellent customer service over the phone. SMEs align with this consumer sentiment, as 87% believe that customers are likely to choose a business that has a business phone line and voice services to call, with good connectivity, over one that doesn’t. 

And it’s not just customer loyalty that human to human voice calls help cultivate, they also drive operational efficiency.  43% of SMEs value faster internal communication that thrives on voice calls, while 39% of SME leaders state phone calls aid communication with suppliers, underlining their efficiency and clarity for collaboration both internally and externally. 

Underwhelming In-Store Device Experience Tempers Consumer Excitement for AI in Retail

New research from SOTI has found that while 95% of UK consumers have used in-store tech, only 23% believe in-store devices – such as kiosks, tablets, scanners and mobile computers – enhance their experience. The data suggests this is having a knock-on effect on enthusiasm for next-generation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered retail tech, with only 20% of consumers excited for its arrival in the retail market.

The findings come from SOTI’s latest report, Techspectations: Consumer Demand for Digital Transformation in Retailwhich surveyed 11,000 global consumers, including 2,000 in the UK. The study found that retailers are failing to meet shoppers’ expectations for in-store tech, with security concerns and lack of staff support compounding consumer dissatisfaction.

When provided with a list of several in-store device options – including self-serve checkouts, in-store tablets and point of sale (POS) devices – only handheld store scanners were considered by the majority of respondents (51%) to improve the shopping experience. Common tech complaints included issues with self-serve checkouts (51%) and a lack of guidance on how to use various in-store technology (46%). 

Given these frustrations – with only 23% of consumers believing in-store devices improve the customer experience – interest in next generation retail tech is limited. Only 20% of consumers are excited for how AI will improve and personalise the retail experience and only 19% expect to use no-touch shopping.

Managing Security Concerns and Driving Loyalty

Further compromising adoption of in-store devices is a lack of trust in the data collection and payment technologies used in the retail industry. More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers globally expressed concerns about entering personal details online or through in-store devices.

Security concerns extend to fraud, with 34% of UK consumers worrying about becoming a victim of financial fraud and another 33% expressing concerns about identity fraud because of using in-store devices. Potential exposure of personal details and the risk of the next user seeing personal information were of equal concern (26%) for consumers.

Unsurprisingly, the elements of the retail experience that were particularly critical to UK consumers were the delivery and return process – with real-time information, efficient product availability and rapid delivery in-store and online now expected.The report found that 42% of UK consumers expect to be able to pick up an item ordered online from a physical store on the same day. Moreover, 73% of consumers expect full visibility of where their order is within the delivery process at all times. When it comes to returns, 66% of consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that provide multiple options for returning a product.

Banking Sector Tops Consumer Digital Trust

Thales’ findings of its 2024 Thales Digital Trust Index reveals that the banking sector is most trusted when it comes to protecting personal data and delivering trusted digital experiences. Thales surveyed 12,426 consumers globally about their relationship with online brands and services, what privacy expectations they demand, and how brands can earn their trust.

The research revealed that the vast majority of customers (89%) are willing to share their data with organizations, but that does come with some non-negotiable caveats.

More than four in five (87%) expect some level of privacy rights from the companies they interact with online. The biggest expectation is the right to be informed that their personal data is being collected (55%), closely followed by the right to have their personal data erased (53%). Other privacy rights identified by the report include:

  • 39% expect the right to correct their personal data
  • 33% expect the right to request a copy of their personal data
  • 26% expect the right to move data from one platform to another

The findings reinforce that the right to privacy and security is non-negotiable. Over a quarter of consumers (29%) have gone so far as to abandon a brand in the past 12 months because it demanded too much personal information. Over a quarter (26%) also abandoned a brand or service because of concerns about how their personal data was being used.

Security and Experience Equals Trust

In addition to demands for privacy, the research highlights that organizations must also deliver a seamless online experience to earn the trust of their customers.

Advertising pop-ups were called out as their number one frustration (71%), closely followed by password re-sets (64%) and having to re-enter personal information (64%). Complex cookie options were also named as a top frustration by 59% of those surveyed.

On top of this, the research found that today’s consumers are increasingly time-conscious, with over a fifth (22%) stating they would give up on an online interaction within a minute if they’re having a frustrating experience.

Thanks for tuning into CXM’s weekly roundup of industry news. Check back next Friday for the latest updates of the week!

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