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From Consumers to Workers, New Research Reports Shed Light on a Range of CX Perceptions and Trends

Fresh Reports Reveal Insights from Qualtrics, Salesforce, Verint, HubSpot, and ACSI

Several new studies and research reports of the past two weeks shine a light on the continuing evolution of CX and its various components in the face of an unrelenting pandemic. The latest findings are summarized below.

Qualtrics: Gen Z Are the Toughest Customers of All

The youngest generation of consumers, those aged 18 to 24 and known as Gen Z, are the most demanding segment, according to a new report from Qualtrics, the experience management company.

In a survey of 9,000 consumers, Gen Z adults gave every industry their lowest scores when asked about how they felt after interacting with a brand or organization. Among industries, federal agencies were the least favored by Gen Z, followed by investment firms, airlines, car rentals, and utilities. In contrast, social media obtained the highest approval ratings, followed by retail stores, fast food, groceries, and streaming media.

Meanwhile, Baby Boomers—those aged 65 and above, who are also the grandparents of Gen Z—are the most likely of all generations to feel delighted by their interactions with companies. Boomers would also be the ones most eager to promote or recommend a brand to friends and family.

The research also found that Gen Z, a larger group than the Millennials that precede them, influences the purchasing behavior of older generations and are also more likely to be familiar with the brand values of the products they buy, noted the research, which summarized the results in a Qualtrics blog on the subject.

Salesforce: Global Workers Say They Are Unequipped for the Future of Work

A new report from Salesforce reveals a growing global digital skills crisis and an urgent need for action, the result of a survey of more than 23,000 workers in 19 countries on the readiness of workers to acquire key digital skills.

The report found that close to 75% of workers do not feel they are equipped at present to learn the digital skills needed by businesses, and even more do not feel equipped to do so for the future. And despite 82% of the respondents planning to learn new skills in the next five years, only 28% are actively involved at present in digital skills learning and training programs.

While the gap is a concern, it also presents an opportunity, Salesforce notes. As companies around the world rapidly transition to digital-first models, demand for employees with digital skills has soared as well.

The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness currently stands at 33, out of 100; digital readiness is assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling. And while some countries feel more digitally ready than others, an urgent need exists for global investment to close the digital skills gap and build a more inclusive workforce, the report notes.

Verint: Chatbots Prove Unsatisfactory

New research from Verint, the customer engagement and analytics company based in Melville, New York, reveals that consumers do not feel chatbots to be helpful in resolving customer service issues, with many finding chatbot experiences to be flat-out frustrating.

Findings from the research, which surveyed 1,000 US adults aged 18 to 65 in September 2021, indicate that nearly 33% of respondents say they rarely or never feel understood by a chatbot, and more than 30% say a chatbot rarely or never fully answers their questions. Those who say they always or often feel understood belong to the smallest group, at 28%.

Because of the inability to fully connect with chatbots, approximately 31% say they always or often abandon their efforts to resolve an issue when interacting with a chatbot. In fact, more than half of consumers end up turning to human agents for help, the research discloses. Consumers are most comfortable with chatbots for simple use cases, the findings noted, such as for retrieving account information, scheduling appointments or services, and booking travel.

The use of customer service chatbots increased by a staggering 426% last year as the COViD-19 pandemic raged on. The upsurge in chatbot use by businesses is attributable to a reduced labor force combined with the high volume of support inquiries from the buying public.

“Chatbots need to move beyond micro-smarts to become intelligent systems that deliver advanced understanding, assistance, and intelligence,” said Jen Snell, vice president for go-to-market, conversational AI at Verint. Chatbots, however, are becoming “supercharged” given the continuing high demand and expectations of consumers, which will fuel the next generation of chatbots—ones that will be more intelligent, personalized, and effective, Snell added.

HubSpot: The Future of Sustainable Work Is Hybrid

A new study from HubSpot, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based developer of customer service and in-bound marketing software, indicates that the hybrid work model is here to stay, with employees around the world desiring the flexibility to work from their homes, supported by a culture that helps them grow personally and professionally.

Surveying more than 4,000 workers from the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, France, Canada, and Japan, the HubSpot study, titled the 2022 Hybrid Work Report, found that employees around the world desire the flexibility of working both remotely and in the office, supported by a culture that embraces and adopts hybrid work models to help them grow personally and professionally.

Among the report’s key findings was that 60% of parents and caregivers feel pressured to be “always on” during working hours, despite their current situation at home. Because of burnout, at least 57% of survey respondents said they would likely look for a new job in 2022. At least 40% of remote workers miss spontaneous, in-person connections with their colleagues, the report noted. And in the transition from remote to in-office work, 49% of in-office workers found staying motivated and staying connected with their team to be the biggest challenge.

Katie Burke, HubSpot’s chief people officer, said caring and listening are table stakes—the least that companies can do as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. “The companies who will be successful in 2022 and beyond will match that listening with action, setting bold strategies for the new future of work,” Burke said. “For us at HubSpot, that’s focusing on making sure our commitment to flexibility scales with our company in a way that is fair, inclusive, and friction-free, no matter where you choose to work from.”

ACSI: Citizen Satisfaction with Federal Government Drops to New Low

Satisfaction with US federal government services has never been worse, and no government quality attribute is exempt or goes unscathed, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) Federal Government Report 2021.

The report notes that citizen satisfaction declined sharply in 2021, sliding 2.6% to a score of 63.4 (out of 100), the fourth consecutive year that satisfaction with the federal government has taken a hit. All four primary drivers of citizen satisfaction were found to have floundered. The drivers are efficiency and use of government processes, ease of accessing and clarity of information, courtesy and professionalism of customer service, and quality of government website.

The ACSI Federal Government Report 2021 is based on interviews with 2,387 random users. The ACSI  has been a national economic indicator for 25 years, measuring and analyzing customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of federal and local government agencies.

Among federal agencies, the Department of the Interior led in citizen satisfaction with a score of 77, the only department to have exceeded the national ACSI average of 73.7 as of 3Q 2021, the report noted. Four other departments—Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense—scored in the 70s but fall short of the ACSI average.

All other departments scored well below the average, with the Department of the Treasury, reportedly the perennial laggard, garnering the lowest rating.

In the area of party affiliation trends, both Democrats (down 4% to 65) and Republicans (down 2% to 64) experienced declines in citizen satisfaction in 2021. The relatively small group of “Other Party” supporters suffered an even larger fall, plummeting 13% to a score of 54. Only Independents who indicated no political party affiliation showed a small increase in 2021, up 2% to 63.

Author Information

Alex is responsible for writing about trends and changes that are impacting the customer experience market. He had served as Principal Editor at Village Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based consultancy on technology impacting healthcare and healthcare-related industries. Alex was also Associate Director for Content Management at Omdia and Informa Tech, where he produced white papers, executive summaries, market insights, blogs, and other key content assets. His areas of coverage spanned the sectors grouped under the technology vertical, including semiconductors, smart technologies, enterprise & IT, media, displays, mobile, power, healthcare, China research, industrial and IoT, automotive, and transformative technologies.

At IHS Markit, he was Managing Editor of the company’s flagship IHS Quarterly, covering aerospace & defense, economics & country risk, chemicals, oil & gas, and other IHS verticals. He was Principal Editor of analyst output at iSuppli Corp. and Managing Editor of Market Watch, a fortnightly newsletter highlighting significant analyst report findings for pitching to the media. He started his career in writing as an Editor-Reporter for The Associated Press.


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