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

This week, we’re looking at new research into agent and customer experiences, and issues in retail for return policy abuse. 

Key news

  • New research from Forsta reveals a strong positive correlation between holistic end-to-end CX management and brand perception. This research shows that 48% of local consumers prefer a mixture of shopping in-person and online. Moreover, as the majority (64%) cite consistent omnichannel services as the top driver for positive brand perception, retailers who meet these consumer demands will likely see an increase in customer satisfaction and return shoppers.  
  • A new study from BusinessComparison has investigated the current state of startups in the UK, identifying the regions and industries with the newest businesses. The industry in which businesses have been operating for the shortest time on average is postal and courier services, with an average age of 5 years 8 months. London emerges as the region with the youngest businesses, 7 years 2 months on average – nearly a year shorter than the North East who followed London at 8 years. Services to buildings and landscape activities is the industry in which dissolved businesses were youngest on average, at 2 years 8 months. 
  • New data shows football fan loyalty extends beyond the pitch, with football supporters typically 11% more loyal to brands and retailers than non-football fans. That’s according to a major new study from customer engagement platform SAP Emarsys. The new data shows that football fans are not only more loyal, but also stay loyal for longer, with 55% continuing to support retailers after sales end, compared to just 39% of non-fans. Football supporters are also more likely to splash out on gifts, with the average fan spending £90 more on Christmas presents last year. Despite being more loyal, football fans are less persuaded by discounts and rewards (46% vs 52%) making them a difficult crowd for marketers to reach through traditional loyalty tactics. 

Commentary news share: marketplace fraud detection in the purchase journey

Which? has shared new research which has found that fraud is rife across secondhand marketplaces, including the likes of Amazon, Depop and more. 

“Today’s findings from Which? are a stark reminder that consumers need to remain vigilant against increasing fraudulent behaviour, and that marketplace operators need to make a concerted effort to stay ahead of fraudsters’ evolving strategies. As third-party intermediaries, platforms require more robust fraud protection than traditional e-commerce as their two-sided ecosystems increase the fraud surface area. Fraud can happen from both the seller, selling fake items, as well as the buyer, who may use fraudulent details to purchase items. Now, we’re also seeing some fraudsters leverage AI technology to automate their operations and create fake identities, documents, and checkout pages, among other things, in a faster and hard-to-detect way. 

To turn the tide in this battle, businesses must fight tech with tech. Generative AI can be extremely useful in this context, enabling the development of advanced biometric authentication techniques such as deep-learning powered facial and voice recognition systems. By integrating these high-tech authentication methods, businesses can prevent unauthorised access and protect their customers. 

Secondhand marketplace platforms are a crucial part of powering a circular economy for a greener future, and it’s imperative they are working with marketplace-specific fraud detection and prevention providers to protect their platform and consumers at every step of the purchase journey.” 

– Maciej Pitucha, VP of Data Intelligence at Mangopay

Contact Centre Agents and Consumers Increasingly Prefer AI-Driven Solutions

Kore.ai has unveiled its annual 2024 Agent Experience (AX) and Customer Experience (CX) Benchmark Reports, featuring historic findings that indicate the increased global acceptance of automation and self-service solutions.

Kore.ai commissioned the research to shed light on the impact of intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) and contact centre AI solutions on customer interactions and agent job satisfaction. The reports show that, for the first time, customer service agents are prioritising advanced AI technology and automated tools over competitive salaries and a fair work environment. Similarly, consumers are increasingly embracing AI, valuing its precision and reliability. A key factor in this shift is the IVAs’ ability to offer around-the-clock assistance and smoothly transition between tasks without requiring repetitive information, significantly enhancing consumer satisfaction and comfort levels.

Key AX Findings Include:

  • An Industry First: Tech Trumps Pay- Agents ranked three automated assistant functionalities– tools that help them better understand customer needs, reduce time spent on searches and minimise typing during call wrap-ups– higher than competitive salary and fair working conditions in terms of importance.
  • Contact Centres are Lagging- 72% of agents express a strong desire for IVAs, but contact centres are lagging in implementation, with 62% of agents reporting a lack of AI use cases. Outdated systems also hinder productivity, with 91% of agents reporting technology-related frustrations.
  • AI Education Boosts Satisfaction- Agents trained in AI report 92% job satisfaction and engagement levels compared to their non-trained counterparts (73%).
  • Win-Win with IVAs- 71% of customer service agents view increased automated assistant usage for assessing and routing customer needs as mutually beneficial for both consumers and agents.

Key CX Findings Include:

  • Customers Prioritise Accuracy and Efficiency Over Live Agent Access– For the first time, effectiveness and accuracy ranked more important than the ability to access a live agent. Additionally, 68% of customers believe that AI assistants’ ability to seamlessly carry and continue conversations across channels is important when it comes to great customer service interactions.
  • The Rise of IVAs Across Industries- Comfort with IVAs is growing across most sectors (travel, banking, retail, cable/telco/ISP) while healthcare sees direct human contact as crucial. Retail emerges as a standout sector with universal approval for AI-assisted customer service, especially in areas like product search (75% respondents reported interest) and purchasing (74%), highlighting broad trust in AI for both advisory and transactional roles.
  • 24/7 Access Appeals to All- The allure of around-the-clock access to customer service is significant among consumers, with 77% noting this is a draw for automation and IVAs. Even Boomers are on board, with 68% recognising the benefits of self-service’s constant access. Other key elements playing crucial roles in enhancing consumer acceptance include conversational voice and the assurance of secure communication for personal information, which enterprise-grade IVAs provide.

The true extent of returns policy abuse and fraud in the UK

Loop have released the findings of a recent consumer study amongst online shoppers, revealing the true extent of returns policy abuse in the UK. As retailers gear up for a busy summer shopping period, the new data offers insights into the different behaviours online shoppers consider to be fraud versus abuse, and how often they engage in such activity. 

Nearly 4 in 10 UK shoppers (38%) admit to having either engaged in return policy abuse or fraudulent behaviours themselves in the past 12 months or know of someone who has*. Alongside this, almost a fifth (17%) say they have taken advantage of a lenient return policy, and close to 1 in 10 (7%) say they specifically made a purchase with the intention of keeping or gifting an item without paying for it. Over a third (34%) claimed that a functional/non-damaged item was defective to receive a discount/refund.

Further analysis from the Loop study found that over half (59%) of online shoppers said they engaged in these practices simply because they needed to determine the size or fit of an item, and more than 1 in 5 (21%) said they wanted to keep the item but needed the money they’d already spent. Of those surveyed who admitted to wearing an item knowing it would be returned (34%), over 1 in 10 people (11%) are doing this at least once a week. 

According to analyst house, GlobalData, UK shoppers posted back more than £4.1bn of online clothing purchases in 2022 and researchers expect that figure to spike by 16.7% before 2027. A further study found that, in 2023, return fraud accounted for a staggering $101 billion in total losses for retailers. This equates to retailers losing approximately $13.70 for every $100 worth of returned merchandise — and this doesn’t account for unfavourable returns behaviours, including ordering multiple items for “fit” just to return them, or wearing items once and then returning. 

Consumer motivations behind return policy abuse

There are some common tactics that U.K. consumers are using to try and abuse the system when to comes to returning products, with some intentions being more malicious than others. 

  • Wardrobing: 27% of online shoppers say they engaged in return policy abuse behaviours because they planned to use the item for a specific event and then return it, commonly known as ‘wardrobing’. 
  • Bracketing: Two-thirds (66%) of online shoppers agree it’s common for them to order multiple items with the intention of returning some or all of them so they can easily determine their preferences, a practice known as ‘bracketing’. 15% admit they’ve engaged in bracketing at least once a week.

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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