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New Research from ACSI, Simplr, Cyara, Conversica, and Emarsys

Topics Include Citizen Satisfaction, CX in the 2022 Holiday Season, Chatbots, and the Consumer-Retailer Divide

CX surveys and research studies

ACSI: Citizen Satisfaction with the Federal Government Rose in 2022

Citizen satisfaction with the federal government ticked up 4.6% in 2022 after two years of steep declines and four years of contraction overall, according to a report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the US.

But while the gains in 2022 corrected much of the downward trajectory that began in 2017, aggregate citizen satisfaction with federal services remains below pre-COVID-19 levels, says Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI.

A national economic indicator for more than 25 years, the ACSI measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services being provided by federal and local government agencies. Scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 100, based on data from interviews with roughly 500,000 customers annually.

Morgeson says COVID-19 significantly stressed the federal government’s ability to effectively offer its services, which eroded the satisfaction level of citizens. The loss, however, has been reversed by the gains achieved last year.

Of the four primary drivers used to measure citizen satisfaction, two continued to experience slight declines in 2022, but the other two registered a palpable increase. Efficiency and ease of government processes as a driver climbed 4.8% to a score of 66, while ease of access and clarity of information as another driver advanced 3.0% to 69. In comparison, the courtesy and professionalism of customer service driver dipped 1.4% to 72, and government website quality faltered 1.4% to 69. Still, the small losses are not nearly large enough to prevent a big improvement in overall citizen satisfaction.

Among government agencies, the US Department of the Interior leads with a score of 75, followed by the Department of Agriculture with 73. The lowest scores were from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with 62; and the Department of the Treasury, with 54.

More findings and insights on the index are in the ACSI’s Federal Government Report 2022.

Related Article: OMB Launches Biden Agenda Calling for Improved CX Within the Federal Government

Simplr: CX During 2022 Holiday Season Proved Inadequate  

Major faults in the digital CX topography surfaced during the start of the holiday season last year, with many brands turning off the live chat function on websites and also ignoring customer email because they did not prepare adequately to cope with the deluge in demand, according to The 2023 State of Ecommerce Customer Service Report from Simplr, the Nashville, Tennessee-based provider of outsourced customer support. The report found that 28.5% of brands turned off live chat last year during the four-day weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Moreover, 40% of pre-sale emails from customers sent to those brands went unanswered, up from 30% in 2021 and 27% in 2020.

“Turning off live chat before Black Friday is akin to firing your in-store retail sales associates on Thanksgiving Day,” says Daniel Rodriguez, CMO at Simplr. “It’s a self-destructive move that hurts both short-term sales revenues and long-term customer loyalty.” But brands resorted to those extreme measures because their internal processes were not ready, the report asserts.

The study is the latest in a string of reports that underscore a marked decline in CX in recent years. According to Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index (CX) Rankings report in 2022, CX quality last year fell in 19% of brands, the highest proportion of brands to drop in one year since the inception of the survey began in 2015.

All told, the gap between consumer expectations and what brands could provide continued to widen in 2022, resulting in brands appearing to be even more unprepared for last year’s holiday shopping season than in 2021 and 2020, Rodriguez points out. “At a time when consumers are already stressed and overwhelmed, poor CX can be calamitous for brands, which—sadly–we saw over the holidays.” 

Cyara: Consumers Love Chatbots but Have Negative Experiences with Them

A new survey from Cyara, the provider of an automated CX assurance platform based in Redwood City, California, shows that most customers wish to use chatbots for automated support, but businesses fail to deliver positive chatbot experiences even as they increasingly rely on them as primary methods for customer interactions online.

For most of the 1,554 global respondents surveyed in the November 2022 study, chatbots were the top way that consumers typically interacted with brands in the last six months. But the survey respondents gave their chatbot experiences an average rating of 6.4/10 or 64%—equivalent to a D grade—with approximately 50% of customers saying they often felt frustrated with chatbots.

Additional findings from the survey underscore the conflicting feelings among many consumers with chatbots. While customers appreciate chatbots for providing 24/7 support and autonomy, interactions are often characterized by friction. Chatbots also are unable to handle complex questions, offering responses that made no sense. Worse, after exhausting the chatbot’s responses, customers were unable to connect to a live agent.

The nature of the chatbot experience will also shape how a customer feels toward chatbot, according to the survey’s findings.

Negative chatbot interactions lead to unfavorable business outcomes, while positive experiences bring value to both the customer and the business. After a negative chatbot experience, 30% of customers are likely to take their purchase to a different brand, abandon their purchase altogether, or tell others about their poor experience with the brand. Following a good chatbot experience, however, 61% of those surveyed say they are more likely to return to a brand, and 56% are more likely to seek out chatbots in the future and to recommend that brand to others afterward.

Conversica: B2B Buyers Find Chatbot Experience Disappointing

While the majority of business-to-business (B2B) buyers use chatbots when considering a business purchase, their chat experiences often do not meet expectations. And with a third of business buyers identifying the chat experience as exerting a major impact on their evaluation of a vendor, companies that botch the chatbot experience for their customers stand to lose revenue, shows a new chatbot experience survey by Conversica, the provider of an AI-driven lead engagement software in Silicon Valley.

Many B2B buyers are also turning away from traditional chatbots, the survey indicates, because their capabilities are simplistic and unhelpful. As a result, buyers considering a business purchase become disappointed enough in most chatbot experiences to abandon conversations in favor of human representatives or, worse, move on to a competitor, leading to negative brand associations, increased workload, and lost revenue, the survey results show.

Jim Kaskade, CEO at Conversica, says the survey illustrates the need for more advanced automated conversation experiences that go well beyond the scripted workflows of traditional mass-market chatbots. “When B2B decision makers evaluate vendors leveraging their chatbot solutions, those companies must deliver powerful, human exchanges, so no revenue opportunity is lost at any point in the customer journey,” Kaskade declares.

Emarsys: Customer and Retailer Perceptions Are at Odds

Retailers and consumers are not aligned on their preferences, revealing an expanding disconnect between each side’s perception of the other, according to a new research study from omnichannel customer engagement provider Emarsys, an SAP company based in Vienna, Austria.

For consumers, rewarding customer loyalty (50%) tops the list of what they want to see from retailers in a year where purse strings are tight. That desired wish is followed by improving customer service (46%), understanding customers better (35%), connecting the online and in-store experience (30%), and making the delivery process better (28%).   

For retailers, the list is slightly different. Improving customer service (53%) is the top priority for retailers in 2023, followed by rewarding customer loyalty (53%), enhancing online experiences (50%), understanding customers better (49%), and providing more digital experiences (44%).  

Related Article: Significant Disconnect Exists Between Consumers and Business Leaders on Issues of Trust

On frequency of engagement, a whopping 61% of retailers surveyed believe that their customers want to hear from them multiple times a week. In fact, just 31% of consumers agree, with the majority preferring contact to be once a week or less. Building trust is also important, the study asserts. While the vast majority (82%) of retailers surveyed say they always review customer feedback in full and make adjustments accordingly, only 30% of consumers believe that retailers review the feedback provided, with 16% saying that even if their feedback is read, no real changes are made.    

With customer needs and preferences changing rapidly, connecting with customers in the right way and with the right message will be crucial for retailer success in 2023, the study states.

“These research results are reflective of changing consumer demands and the need for retailers to align with their needs in order to remain competitive,” says Meghann York, global head of product marketing at Emarsys. “In today’s uncertain economic times, meeting customers where they are means everything.”

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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