SAS Consumer Poll delves into what customers really think about customer experience in Covid times

According to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics, a third of customers would ditch companies after just one poor experience.

Meanwhile, 89 per cent of customers would abandon companies after just two-to-five poor examples of customer service, before moving to competing brands.

The research shows that, despite disruption caused by COVID-19, customers’ patience with companies offering a poor customer experience is running thin.

Businesses can no longer rely solely on price, according to respondents. The research found that, when deciding who they will spend their money with, customers are placing increasing importance on the experience and service provided.

Three-fifths (61 per cent) of respondents said they would pay more to buy and/or use products and services from businesses that provided them with a good customer experience during COVID-19.

This coincides with almost half of respondents (49 per cent) labelled customer experience more important than low prices and discounts.

Brands are also facing an exciting new prospect – large numbers of customers who are using their digital services and apps for the first time during lockdown. Over one in ten (15%) of customers can be considered completely new to digital channels, and 70% plan to keep using the new channels permanently.

This is requiring new agility and fast scaling for businesses who previously, only had a % of their revenue coming from digital.

In the wake of COVID-19, SAS wanted to discover how attitudes have changed and if businesses had made progress in developing their customer experiences.

This new survey – using an extended sample size of 10,000 consumers from across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) – shows that COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of the customer experience in consumer buying habits. And yet, brands are still falling short when it comes to delivering these great experiences.

Andreas Heiz, EMEA Director of Customer Intelligence at SAS, said:

“Companies may feel that they’ve braved the worst of the storm, with disruptions on a downward trend. However, having broken through the initial storm cloud, they now face a new challenge: increasingly unpredictable customer behaviour. If they don’t adapt quickly by offering a more personalised and real-time customer experience, customers will leave in droves. During a time of recession, this simply isn’t an option.”

The research also found that there have been signs of improvement over the last few months, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19. An average of three in 10 customers noted an improvement in the customer experience during lockdown. Further, the good news for businesses is that over one in ten (14.7 per cent) customers started using a digital service/app for the first time since lockdown, with over two-thirds (70 per cent) planning to continue using it after lockdown. This represents a new pool of digital customers for businesses to interact with.

However, despite these improvements and new opportunities, customers still think there is much more that businesses can do. An average of 13 per cent of customers still felt that the customer experience had diminished over lockdown. This still leaves the majority of customers undecided on their feelings towards the customer experience: an opportunity for businesses to turn it into a competitive advantage.

Andreas Heiz

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