Every customer is a digital customer: the growing digital customer expectation gap

While it’s true that digital technology continues to revolutionize the business landscape at a blistering pace, making it hard to anticipate with certainty what the future might look like even just three years from now, let alone five or ten. But what is known is that consumer preferences for customer service interactions are increasingly digital. Digital communication channels are no longer seen as new and innovative. In 2018, digital channels are seen as mainstream, and companies who have yet to move on implementing them seem behind the times.

2018 was proclaimed the year that companies would take action on digital transformation, and we’ve all seen the statistics. In the United States:

  • 89% of consumers expect companies to have an online self-service portal
  • 68% of consumers most commonly begin customer service interactions on a computer
  • And 73% of consumers have used 3 or more channels to resolve customer service issues

The majority of consumers want to resolve customer service issues using digital channels. And even more importantly, expectations for what looks like “good” digital customer service continue to skyrocket. Failure to provide digital customer service erodes loyalty in your brand and will actively drive consumers to your competitors.

Given these dangers, are companies making good on their digital transformation plans and keeping pace with consumer expectations? Not exactly.

Most companies are not transforming fast enough to meet customer expectations.

According to a survey done by Forrester, 21% of companies surveyed responded that they were “finished” with their digital transformation. (A sentiment that Forrester’s Ted Schadler expressed puzzlement over, given that it is impossible to say what effect the digital innovations of today will have in the future.) A further 22% of companies said that they are either not digitally transforming, or are still investigating possibilities. And while the remaining 56% of companies responded that they were in the process of digitally transforming, the scale and scope of those investments mostly remain small.

So if the need for digital transformation is apparent, what is the delay in implementing digital technologies? As one survey respondent answered, “It’s a war between old-school technophobe leaders and the technology innovation that represents a completely different way of doing business.”

Of course, the problem with such cultural roadblocks to digital investment is that it hampers organizational ability to accurately assess their digital transformation progress.

The growing gap between company self-assessment and customer experience

One of the most illustrative such gaps is in retail, which has been one of the industries perhaps most affected by the rapid pace of digital technological innovation. Already, digital interactions influence 56% of purchases made in bricks-and-mortar stores, through widespread practices like showrooming. However, many retailers would seem to remain unaware of the extent to which they have fallen behind, as indicated by the following:

  • 84% of retailers feel their digital maturity is highly sophisticated. (Forbes)
  • While only 1% of customers feel that their digital retail experience is consistent with their needs and wants (McKinsey)

However, this digital expectation gap isn’t a problem affecting just retail. As customer loyalty continues to decline across all industries, IBM reports that 81% of consumers demand improved response time.

The expectation gap, summarized

Are you unsure of how best to meet your digital transformation goals? Talk with one of our experts to book a demo and see how we can put our digital customer service platform to work for you.

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About the Author: Anna Kreider