Customer Service Digital

Are you meeting consumer expectations online?

Many businesses are failing to meet the level of digital experience consumers expect.

Across all industries, at least 84% of consumers say their experiences with using digital tools and services fall short of expectations, according to the Gartner, Inc. Digital Consumer Experience Index.

To gauge the current state of consumers’ perception of key characteristics of their digital experiences, the global consultancy looked at user experiences such as placing a retail order, submitting a service request to a bank, purchasing life insurance, and paying a government bill.

The specific elements of total digital experience probed were consumers’ level of trust, perceived ease of use, and benefits received, such as saving time or money. The survey included 2,026 UK consumers and a further 2,034 in the US.

“Customer focus is a top business priority for CEOs and subsequently a large investment area for CIOs,” said Brad Holmes, managing vice president at Gartner. “Despite these efforts, consumers report significant gaps in enterprises’ ability to make digital experiences easy, to earn their trust, and to deliver desirable results.”

All industries show room for improvement

The cross-industry look revealed that most organizations do not meet consumers’ expectations.

Even in banking, the best-performing industry, only 16%t of respondents rate their digital perceptions in the top quartile of the index.

“In fact, among consumers who have used the digital services we asked about, 26% (banking) to 49% (government) rate their perceptions in the lower two quartiles of our index, leaving a lot of room for improvement,” Mr. Holmes said.

Millennials use digital services more often, but are less satisfied than other generations

Differences in adoption by age or generation are also key insights for experience design.

It is no surprise that millennials are in general a lot more engaged digitally than their older peers. The survey found that at least two-thirds of millennials use retailers’, manufacturers’ and utilities’ digital services.

“While millennials are the most frequent users of digital services, they are also the least happy. Out of all generations, they have the lowest opinion of most industries’ digital services,” Mr. Holmes said. “This may be because baby boomers and other older generations use over time has made them more immune to poor ease of use, or that they have become resigned to doing what it takes to get value one way or another.”

Consumers rate retailer digital experiences as the easiest; governments the most difficult

Ease of use is a critical element of a positive experience. Online retailers have innovated continuously to reduce the instances of shopping cart abandonment and other blockers to completing a purchase transaction. Banks also have invested in simplifying transactions such as submitting a service request or using chat for support. Those efforts have panned out in relatively higher consumer perception for ease of use. Consumers who are current and past users of governments’ and life insurers’ online services and tools perceive them to be more difficult.

Along with ease of use, trust is a key component of a consumer’s satisfaction with a digital experience. According to the Index, banks enjoy the highest level of trust among consumers. Yet skeptics remain as 18 percent of those consumers who choose not to use bank’s online services say it’s because they “don’t fully trust them.” Similarly, for governments and retailers, 20 percent of nonusers point to lack of trust as their reason.

“Given that most industry’s digital experiences don’t perform very well in the eyes of the consumers, this is a wake-up call for all CIOs. They should evaluate the index closely and prioritize IT investments to close critical digital engagement gaps,” said Mr. Holmes. “CIOs must get together with their CMO, customer experience, business unit and product leaders to revisit and reset the current digital experience priorities and projects in light of these insights. The path is well paved by best practices of leading retailers, banks and the successful digital natives. Understanding and applying cross-industry best practices in order to re-engineer digital product and service capabilities is the right way to make progress.”

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Survey Analysis: CIOs Must Help Close the Gap Between CEOs’ Digital Ambitions and Consumers’ Digital Perceptions.“

About the Gartner Digital Consumer Experience Index

The perceptions of regular internet users, presented here, are based on a Gartner study conducted to understand consumer adoption, value realization and attitudes toward technology enabled (i.e., digital) services. The research was conducted online from September to October 2017, among 4,060 respondents in the U.K. (n = 2,026) and the U.S. (n = 2,034). All respondents were screened for minimum age (18 and above) and regular internet usage in the past three months. Quotas were established by demographic segments — age, gender, income, region to approximate the internet-using population within each country. The responses have been weighted to ensure that the results are representative of the online populations of both the U.S. and the U.K.