Consumers Seek Personalized Attention Online

Forty seven percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed
July 20, 2017Alyson Cohen

Context Consumer SurveySAN JOSE, Calif.– Online consumers said they will abandon a brand if they continuously encounter a poor, impersonal and frustrating experience.

According to a survey done by The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and SAP Hybris, almost half of North American and European consumers surveyed are not looking for omnichannel perfection but expect to have access to a short list of criteria including a company website, email, a phone number to call as well as a knowledgeable salesperson to speak with as part of their customer experience.

When asked to outline the key aspects of an exceptional customer experience, 52 percent expected fast response times to needs, suggestions or issues, and 47 percent wanted knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever needed.

Despite the appetite for a frictionless experience, the consumer faces frustration with a brand when they fail to see why a price increases when its added value or improvements is not apparent, according to the survey, "The Customer in Context." Thirty six percent of respondents’ most common frustration is when consumers are not treated like the loyal customers they are. Forty seven percent say they will stop doing business with a brand when they are continuously frustrated while 32 percent of consumers would email the company to complain and 29 percent would network their frustrations to family and friends.

"Today, the differentiator isn’t whether we are able to individualize an experience, but rather having the insight and intelligence to know where, when and how a customer expects to be greeted with value and relevance," said Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing at the CMO Council. "Consumers don’t need personalization at every moment. But what this research amplifies is the requirement to get relevant, personalized experiences right for an audience of one in their micro-moment of need."

Overall, consumers felt that brands were doing a fairly good job of delivering on the most important aspects of the customer experience. One in four consumers felt that brands are delivering personalized and relevant engagements across critical touchpoints. However, there is still work to be done as 38 percent say brands are meeting their needs, and 22 percent say that brands are delivering, but only in digital channels. Millennial respondents were more likely to acknowledge that brands were delivering relevance, albeit only in digital channels, while Generation X respondents felt that brands were struggling to deliver, and Baby Boomers felt brands were a long way off.

The survey also noted that men prefer mostly digital experiences (61 percent), while women (59 percent) admit that no selling channel really meets all of their needs. The top frustration for women is the disconnect in physical and digital experiences if they buy something online and are not able to return it in store (56 percent). Men, on the other hand, are most frustrated by constantly feeling the brands they do business with know nothing about their loyal consumer, the marketing council said.

The study is based on findings from an online survey of more than 2,000 consumers in early 2017. The audience was made up of 50 percent male and 50 percent female respondents across the United States (50 percent), Canada (25 percent), and Europe (25 percent).

Alyson CohenaAlyson Cohen | Contributing Editor

Alyson Cohen is a senior honors student at Rutgers University who has joined HFN this summer as an editorial intern.


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