How important is the customer experience?

The old adage that the customer is king still rings true for many businesses. Customer experience is vital to the vast majority of firms and often makes an enormous difference when it comes to creating a successful long-term business. Though companies are increasingly automated and digitalised with each passing year, ensuring customers are pleased with the purchasing process is still a top priority for businesses of all sizes. While bigger, multinational organisations may be able to disregard some complaints as an unavoidable side effect of their size, small and medium sized businesses don’t have the same luxury.

Poor customer experience costs the UK an estimated £234 billion in sales each year and is responsible for an enormous number of missed opportunities, according to a survey from Magnetic North and Censuswide. Given that a massive 92% of customers reported having a poor customer experience at some point in time, leading to one in three abandoning a purchase, the statistics indicate that there is still a great deal of work to be done when it comes to improving British businesses’ customer service and the shopping experience.

Many of the problems experienced by customers occur over new purchasing platforms, through mobile devices, the Internet and other digital technologies. The rise of online shopping has radically changed the nature of doing business and entrepreneurs now have to ensure they provide a simple, easy to use online portal through which customers are able to contact the company, make purchases and provide feedback. The increasing use of mobile devices for business has also meant that websites need to be designed with mobile use in mind – an additional consideration that usually involves extra expense.

However, these concerns and additional expenses are more than worth the additional outlay. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that 69% of people prefer making a purchase online, 62% prefer to carry out their research online and 41% would rather make complaints over the Internet. This suggests that, as well as being the dominant means of completing a purchase, the web has become the preferred way of providing feedback for British consumers.

The most important figures to emerge from the survey relate to customer allegiance and their willingness to switch to competitors. 46% of those completing the ONS survey said that they had switched to a competing business after experiencing poor customer service. 71% of those that had switched, did so because it was difficult to find customer service information. These statistics demonstrate the importance of the customer experience to businesses of all sizes and suggest that no one can afford to ignore problems with the service they provide.

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