Research Finds Online Customer Experience Mostly Sucks

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More than four of every five consumers say the experience they get from businesses over digital channels aren't good enough according to recent research by Gartner. Looking at number of different uses cases such as placing a retail order, submitting a service request or paying a government bill, the study evaluated perceived ease of use and benefits received such as saving time or money. While many companies think they're doing OK on digital service delivery, that's not what their customers are saying.

Gartner found banks were the best ranked industry. But the "best" might really be better described as the "least worst" just 16% of respondents rating their digital perceptions in the top quartile of the index.

Millennials are more engaged digitally than their older peers but at least two-thirds of millennials that use retail, manufacturer and utilities digital services rank those services lowly.

“While millennials are the most frequent users of digital services, they are also the least happy. Out of all generations, they have the lowest opinion of most industries’ digital services," said Brad Holmes, managing vice president at Gartner. “This may be because baby boomers and other older generations use over time has made them more immune to poor ease of use, or that they have become resigned to doing what it takes to get value one way or another".

When it comes to ease of use, retail led the way with government services bringing up the rear. Over the last decade or so, online retail has focussed heavily on online services in order to make it easier for customers to complete transactions by employing design thinking and technology to streamline the process from searching to delivery as much as possible. But governments have a captive audience, no competition and different budget constraints.

Trust is a key component of a consumer’s satisfaction with a digital experience. The research found banks enjoy the highest level of trust among consumers although almost one in five of the 4060 respondents from the UK and US choose not to use online banking services because they “don’t fully trust them.” Similarly, for governments and retailers, 20% of non-users point to lack of trust as their reason.

Great online experiences for consumers are important but it seems the expectations of customers are moving ahead faster that the ability of many industries to keep up. And while Gartner's report is titled "CIOs Must Help Close the Gap Between CEOs’ Digital Ambitions and Consumers’ Digital Perceptions", the reality is great customer experience is a whole of business issue where everything from how a user finds a system to how they are fully serviced needs to be addressed. And that needs businesses to make sure all their back office operations are properly integrated.


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