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IBM: Retailers not meeting customer experience expectations


Retailers have a way to go in satisfying their customers in several key areas.

The IBM 2016 Global Customer Experience Index (CEI) evaluated 550 brick-and-mortar and pure-play retailers spanning eight different retail segments in 23 countries across the globe. This study revealed that the industry achieved an overall performance score of 40%, a failing grade, when measured against customer satisfaction criteria.

Specifically, the index measured customer satisfaction in the areas of consistency, content, context, and convenience. Consistency had the highest score, with 49% consumer satisfaction. Retailers are generally more effective at providing visibility into online product availability than in-store product availability, although retailers scored relatively poorly in both.

Fifty-two percent of retailers provide online product availability in three or more channels, and only 38% provide store-level product availability in three or more channels.

Retailers are also missing the mark on delivering engaging content, with a satisfaction score in this category of 42%. Content is especially falling short when delivered via mobile. Most retailers included in the index offer basic in-store mobile services, but miss an opportunity to support customers’ in-store decision making.

While 80% of retailers offer in-store mobile services for smartphones, 55% do not offer additional product information via a digital device while in the store. Furthermore, 71% do not offer product comparisons on their websites.

In the area of convenience, retailers only earned a 32% satisfaction score. Fifty-five percent of retailers allow customers to “click and collect,” or buy online and pick up locally from a store. However, the index finds the experience often takes more than 48 hours to complete. Only 27% of these retailers provided an in-store collection experience ranked as “good” or “very good.”

Also, retailers are failing at delivering offerings that fit into specific contexts. Context produced the lowest satisfaction score of any of the four customer experience areas analyzed by the index -30%. While retailers are now encouraging customers to provide more personal information, IBM data shows few are leveraging the available data to recognize and acknowledge customer preferences and turn these insights into actions.

In fact, retailers scored lowest on these contextual criteria, and only 17% of retailers surveyed provide personalized name, product content and marketing messages in at least one digital touchpoint.

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