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Companies have lost the human touch in customer experience – PwC survey

Two-thirds of consumers surveyed by PwC feel companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. Three-quarters say they want more human interaction in the future, not less.

The findings come in a new international survey by PwC of 15,000 consumers across 12 countries including the US, UK, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

The survey, ‘Experience is Everything’, finds that in an age of chatbots, digital payments, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, companies need to work harder to strike the right customer experience (CX) balance.

Price and quality remain top of mind when consumers make purchasing decisions, but 73 per cent of global respondents say that a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their brand loyalties. In fact, the price premium for quality CX among consumers worldwide is up to 16 per cent on products and services.

Increasingly, consumers find a positive brand experience to be more influential than great advertising – it’s what companies do that matters not what they say. And the potential return on investment on improving the quality of customer experience is upwards of 16 per cent.

Conversely, the survey underlines how bad experiences drive consumers away. Of the consumers surveyed, 60 per cent would stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service, 46 per cent because of employees’ lack of knowledge and half because they don’t trust the company. One in three (32 per cent) say they would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Speed and efficiency (80 per cent), knowledgeable and helpful employees (78 per cent) and convenience (77 per cent) universally matter most. These cornerstone elements are so highly valued that the majority (52 per cent) of consumers would pay more for greater speed and efficiency, 43 per cent would pay more for greater convenience and 41 per cent would pay more for knowledgeable and helpful employees.

While the consumer generates the revenue, employees drive the experience. Seventy one per cent of consumers think a company’s employees have a significant impact on their experience. But only 44 per cent believe that employees understand their needs well.

David Clarke, PwC principal and Experience Consulting Leader said: “Brands won’t be able to solve their CX problems with technology alone – it’s just an enabler, facilitating the connection between a product or service and consumers. Instead, they must find a way to create an experience that blends consumer demand for tech with their strong desire for authentic, personal interaction. They don’t need to look far, though – employees hold the key to creating and sustaining great inter-actions with consumers.”

In short, consumers are willing to pay for a customer experience that goes beyond the norm and brings together the best elements of people, technology and service with a smile.

Michel Ganado, consulting partner at PwC Malta, remarked:  “The situation locally is no different and, with intense competition, getting customer experience wrong is a costly business. Furthermore, while Maltese companies are investing considerably in technology to improve performance, this latest study reaffirms the notion that customer experience is not solely dependent on technological innovation. Rather employee satisfaction is an important key driver for delivering superior customer experience.”

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