Insights|CX Appeal: What is the Role of Customer Experience in Purchasing Decisions?

CX Appeal: What is the Role of Customer Experience in Purchasing Decisions?

In a post-pandemic world, how is customer experience influencing consumer purchasing decisions? How can you build an effective customer experience strategy that will translate into greater brand loyalty?

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by Sitel staff May 19, 2021 - 5 MIN READ

In a post-pandemic world, how is customer experience influencing consumer purchasing decisions? How can you build an effective customer experience strategy that will translate into greater brand loyalty?

Stating that customer experience (CX) is a brand’s greatest differentiator may be becoming a cliché. It’s a phrase used among analyst reports, best practice checklists and industry-focused marketing assets. However, clichés are born in truth. The truth is, consumers are equally – if not more – focused on how a brand delivers rather than simply on what it delivers.  

Understanding the importance of delivering a consistent customer experience is contingent upon understanding why some brands – despite intense competition and across all industries – continue to lead the pack in customer loyalty.

Follow the Leaders  

There are countless ways for a brand to become competitive in the marketplace. So, why should you focus on your customer experience strategy to build brand loyalty? Because brands delivering consistent and positive customer experiences have greater customer loyalty. These brands also have a better reputation – built on authentic word of mouth – and are able to charge a premium for their goods and services due to their mastery of the how as well as the what.  

The Importance of Delivering a Consistent Customer Experience 

Our latest whitepaper, Driving Customer Loyalty; Perception, Effort and Action explains how consumers are defining both positive and negative customer experience as we enter the new normal and how CX is driving their purchasing decisions. And, it illustrates how building a strong customer experience strategy will help all organizations aiming to build and maintain customer loyalty.  

Based on a proprietary study of 2,000 consumers (1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. respondents), Driving Customer Loyalty; Perception, Effort and Action makes it clear why there is a direct relationship between delivering a consistent customer experience and brand allegiance. 

The Role of Customer Experience in Purchasing Decisions 

Just 6% of consumers believe a positive customer experience has no influence over their purchasing decisions. But, 94% recognize the impact of customer experience and 58% of consumers know it’s a defining factor when making purchasing decisions and choosing one brand over another.  

And then, there’s the flip side of the coin. When we polled U.S. and U.K. consumers in 2020 as part of our COVID-19: the CX Impact report (published in May 2020 at the height of the pandemic’s first wave), 73% of respondents said it would take just one negative experience for them to cut ties with a brand.  

A year later, one in three consumers revealed that over the first three months of 2021, they had contemplated ending their customer relationship due to a poor experience.

Positive Customer Experience is Consistent Across Generations  

So how do you do deliver a consistent customer experience? It is not simply ensuring all channels are working properly, that contact center agents are well trained and proactive, or that service is delivered with a smile.  

As already mentioned, 58% of all respondents let customer experience influence their purchasing decisions. When drilling further down into this data, we discover that at 71%, Gen X is the most likely to base their brand choices on customer experience levels (millennials are a close second at 63%). However, there are still some generational differences when it comes to defining positive CX.  

Value for money is the No. 1 factor across all generations when defining the characteristics of customer experience. Millennials and Gen Z are the most likely to prioritize 24/7 service such as self-service portals, access to FAQs or chatbots when considering what constitutes a positive CX. Although, Gen X wants swift access to human staff for issue resolution. 

Gen X and Social Shaming   

We perceive millennials and Gen Z as the social media generations. However, Gen X is the most likely to socially shame a brand that fails to meet expectations. 72% of Gen X respondents who’d severed ties with a brand said they’d subsequently posted a negative review either on social media or a review aggregation site, compared with 59% of millennials and 50% of Gen Z.  

Nevertheless, as well as being able to demonstrate a product or service and the associated brand experience represent value for money, all generations agree that the crucial factors of a positive CX include friendly and knowledgeable staff, a swift issue resolution service, an easy to use and intuitive website and the ability to interact with staff via live chat.  

Customer Experience and Social Causes  

As well as a growing expectancy for a brand to offer real-time non-voice channels, consumers are becoming more conscious of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and whether or not brands are aligned with causes close to their heart.  

When polled, just 20% of consumers said that an organization’s stance on social or environmental issues had no influence on their brand allegiance. On the other hand, 80% of consumers say they would like to support socially conscious brands and 27% said they always try to buy from brands they know are committed to good causes.  

Globally, a third of men claimed to prefer buying from brands they know to be committed to social causes, while at a generational level, Gen Z and millennials have the greatest tendency to support brands that stand for something.  

This means there is a clear opportunity to strengthen connections with a large cross section of consumers. This can be realized by simply articulating support for important causes or highlighting success around corporate social responsibility. However, for this to be a genuine differentiator, the stance has to be equally genuine, clearly aligned with brand values and strong enough to withstand scrutiny.  

Leveraging Your Customer Experience Strategy 

The best way to deliver on consumer expectations is to take an outward in view of your existing customer experience strategy. Ask how the current end user experience equates to value for money and, if it falls short, consider what that added value should be. Next, reverse engineer the experience, building backwards from the overall experience to the initial interaction.  

In doing this, consistency needs to be the watch word. That means more than a consistency of knowledge or of positive demeanor among staff. It means that whether a customer interacts with your brand via your website, through a chat or messaging function or via traditional channels like the phone or in person, there is a consistency of service and experience. A customer using chat must receive the same level of service and the same information or instructions as someone communicating via email, posting to social media or speaking on the phone.  

When the goal – building stronger customer loyalty, better retention and positive reputation – is clear, finding the route to that outcome also becomes clear.  

To learn more about the role of customer experience in purchasing decisions and consumer behavior, download the whitepaper.

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