After two years of pandemic-induced uncertainty and ennui, it seemed like we’d seen the worst of it. Then the supply chain backup combined forces with skyrocketing energy prices and seemingly unstoppable consumer demand to ratchet up inflation to levels we haven’t seen since the 1980s. Yay, just what we all needed, right? But how has inflation impacted consumer buying habits and their customer experience expectations?
We’ve released the 2022 Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report to answer these questions. And, yes, the headline is a little bit of a spoiler!
For the second annual edition of the Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report, we surveyed 500 consumers who have completed a high-stakes purchase in the last year. We define a “high-stakes purchase” as one that you take time to weigh options, research, and/or put more thought into before making a decision, due to the complexity and/or cost of the item or service.
We surveyed consumers who had researched a purchase or made a purchase in the following industries: automotive, financial services, healthcare, home services, insurance, telecom, and travel to understand better the importance of the customer experience throughout the buying journey. Check out these customer experience stats to see what your buyers expect.
Slightly more (38%) consumers reported making a high-stakes purchase in 2022 than in last year’s survey (35%). Over 70% of respondents say that inflation has affected their high-stakes purchasing decisions and timelines, and more than half (58%) are slightly less likely or much less likely to purchase at all due to inflation. Rising prices have not significantly slowed consumer demand for products and services, but it has increased their demand for superior customer service.
Nearly 70% of consumers said they will do more research than they did last year to find the best price, which isn’t entirely surprising. However, customer experience is nearly as important as price, as 37% reported that they will do more research than they did last year to find the company that will provide the best customer experience.
While consumers are concerned about cost, they expect the best customer service available when they’re putting a bigger chunk of cash down. And they’ll even pay extra for it — 63% of respondents said that they will pay more for a product or service to get better customer service.
The survey results make the importance of customer experience clear — 76% of consumers reported that they will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience.
Your customers are willing to pay more for great service, but they’ll also make you pay if you don’t provide it. Consumers have less patience than ever for bad experiences, and they won’t hesitate to stop doing business with you—even after a single negative experience. Every interaction you have with your customers matters more than ever.
One of the most important aspects of the customer experience is the service that you provide on the phone. When making a high-stakes purchase decision, it might be the first and only human-to-human interaction customers have with your brand. It’s important that you get the experience right because it’s the interaction with your brand that they will remember most. This year, 7% more people said they called businesses across all industries than they did last year, with 68% reporting that they called at some point in their buying journey.
We also found that the phone is the most preferred communication channel when consumers are having a problem and need help, up 8% since 2021 and overtaking online as the preferred channel.
Most of your customers will call at some point during the buying journey, and most will stop doing business with you after just one bad experience. More than any other channel, it’s important that you get the call experience right. Are you treating customers poorly on the phone? They won’t be customers for long.
When respondents ranked the possible reasons why they would stop doing business with a company, a bad phone experience was second only to high prices.
We found that consumers are getting a bit more patient since our last Buyer Experience Report survey in 2021. While ⅔ reported hanging up after being placed on hold this year, that’s less than the ¾ who did so in 2021.
Yes, people are slightly more patient than last year, but we’re coming down from a high watermark. So take the increased patience with a pile of asterisks.
But how do hold time expectations align with how long people will wait? Three-quarters of those surveyed say they expect to wait 10 minutes or less on hold and about 60% said they hung up in 10 minutes or less. About 2% are saltily pessimistic, expecting to wait on hold for over an hour!
In an economy where everyone is under inflation-driven financial pressure, consumers are seeking more value for their money, and for many, that means getting the best experience possible. Get the 2022 Invoca Buyer Experience Report to get the latest customer experience data and learn more about what your customers expect in the age of inflation.