Marketers and communicators have been turning to generative AI and other emerging tech to try to finally get a handle on ever-heightening customer experience expectations, and brands and businesses are at last feeling like they’re making some substantial progress—but maybe their optimism is actually just wishful thinking.
That’s what consumers—the ones having the experiences—largely think, according to new research from SurveyMonkey, which reveals a drastic disconnect between consumers’ feelings and CX and digital marketing professionals’ perceptions about customer experiences. The analysis of 1,000 consumers and more than 600 CX and digital marketing industry professionals shows that they do not see eye to eye in four important areas: the value of AI; the level of post-COVID-19 support; consumers’ preferred feedback channels; and the amount of personalization they receive.
The findings from the surveys, presented in the firm’s new State of CX report, reveal insights that can be used to transform how CX and digital marketing professionals work and engage with consumers to provide a better experience and enable greater customer satisfaction—and truly take their CX in the right direction after all.
Key differences include:
CX and digital marketing pros are more optimistic about AI tools than consumers
Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of CX and digital marketing professionals expect AI to positively impact the customer experience and 82 percent say it is a priority for their company. However, only 25 percent of consumers expect AI to positively impact their engagement experiences and 32 percent expect it to have a negative impact on their interactions.
There is a significant disconnect about the ongoing impact of COVID on CX
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of CX and digital marketing professionals say the level of customer experience their company provides has improved following the pandemic, but only 27 percent of consumers agree.
There is a noticeable difference between preferred customer feedback channels
CX and digital marketing professionals want more investment in customer feedback programs (52 percent) and product feedback programs (47 percent), and 49 percent cite the website as the preferred communication channel. However, 53 percent of consumers select the phone as their preferred means of providing feedback.
CX teams are far more confident about the personalized experiences they deliver than consumers
Even more (86 percent) CX and digital marketing pros said their customers receive a personalized experience all or most of the time throughout the entire customer journey. But just a mere 8 percent of consumers felt that they received a consistently personalized experience, and 10 percent expressed that they never received a personalized experience—a major disconnect if there ever was one.
Despite CX teams expanding, 40 percent said customer experience is not a priority for leaders, who occasionally talk about CX but fail to act on it; and only 25 percent have a single CX leader who oversees and manages the entire customer journey.
The disconnect on these topics and others likely stems from a lack of information
More than a third (35 percent) of CX and digital marketing pros say they don’t have the customer data and insights they need, specifically in the consideration stage (57 percent), purchase stage (53 percent), and awareness stage (45 percent).
“Providing experiences that better align with consumer needs and expectations in 2023 and beyond starts with leveraging the right insights,” said Marci Kirkpatrick, Customer Experience Program Director at SurveyMonkey, in a news release.
“The experience gap we’re seeing stems from limited knowledge across the entire customer journey,” Kirkpatrick said. “This presents a significant opportunity for CX teams to further invest in initiatives that bring them closer to a deeper understanding of how customers perceive experiences throughout their entire journey with a brand or company and explore best practices to optimize those experiences.”
SurveyMonkey also recently released similar research about consumer views on AI and CX. You can download that report here.
This study of customer experience professionals was conducted April 24-26, 2023, among 161 digital marketers and 442 customer experience professionals. Respondents were selected from an online panel.
The study of consumers was conducted on April 24, 2023 among a sample of 1,000 U.S. adults age 18+, with data weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States, resulting in a modeled error estimate of +/- 3.5 percentage points. Respondents were selected from an online panel.