As COVID-19 vaccines roll out worldwide an updated SAS Consumer Study delves into what customers really think about customer experience and to what degree they will go back to pre-COVID shopping habits.

The latest research by SAS, the analytics leader, shows that 80% of customers feel their customer experience has improved since the pandemic started. As for how permanent these changes are, only three in 10 people plan to revert back to the same pre-pandemic shopping habits.

For many, the pandemic has changed customer behaviour forever. Organisations must accept this and be flexible enough to adapt. With revenues declining or stagnating during the pandemic, it’s crucial that companies make the most of a net rise in consumer spending post-pandemic by tailoring the customer experience to individual behaviors, needs and preferences.

Our research shows that customers are very prepared to switch if there’s a better experience on offer elsewhere. Organisations must make sure they are always that better option. To make this a reality, companies now have more digital users than ever before, with a greater willingness to share data. They now need the right data-driven approach to turn this opportunity into success.

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 updated 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:

Customers expect a huge amount from the customer experience, and these expectations are only rising. Meeting these demands is a monumental challenge for businesses, but one with a reward to match at the end. By tailoring the customer experience to individual customers’ wants and needs, businesses can not only retain existing business, but attract new customers who are easily dissatisfied with the competition.

People are more willing to share personal data than ever before, so brands have the unique opportunity to understand their customers better – and deliver a faster, better service - through the use of advanced analytics. Companies that don’t seize this opportunity will live to regret it as they watch their customers flock to businesses that do.

Andreas Heiz

To find out more what level of Customer Experience your consumers expect, download our e-book