2024 Consumer Trends Report

2024 Consumer Trends Report – Qualtrics

Your CX playbook for the year ahead

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

Introduction

 Amid the buzz and excitement of AI, this year’s Consumer Trends study is a timely reminder to organizations to not lose sight of what matters most to their success — creating genuine, human connections with customers.

The desire to connect and be understood is innate in every interaction whether it’s face-to-face with

teammates, on the phone with agents in your contact center, or as consumers scroll through your website.

Our 4th annual Consumer Trends Report, based on responses from more than 28,000 consumers

across 26 countries, shows just how valuable those connections really are.

But here’s the catch — understanding how to make those connections is getting harder.

People are giving less feedback to the companies they buy from, leaving many organizations blind to customer friction.

CX leaders must rise to the challenge, modernizing legacy listening programs that rely on surveys alone to meet customers where they are.

It’s these challenges where emerging technologies like AI offer the biggest opportunities.

Whether it’s opening the aperture to new sources of customer data, unlocking intelligence by understanding the data more deeply, or providing

frontline teams with insights into the customers they serve, the potential for technology to enhance, not replace, human connection is incredible.

As you place your bets in 2024 and beyond, I hope this year’s insights and advice from our team of experts shine a light on the areas where you can have the greatest impact.

 

Consumer expectations are at an all time high, and people are placing a premium on customer experiences that prioritize human connection. For

organizations that can deliver seamless omnichannel experiences from their websites to their contact centers and everything in between, it’s clear customers will reward them with their dollars and lasting loyalty.

BRAD ANDERSON, QUALTRICS PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTS,

USER EXPERIENCE, AND ENGINEERING

What we found

 4        Trend 1 // Human connection is the foundation of a winning AI strategy

11      Trend 2 // Great service beats low prices in the battle for customer loyalty

16     Trend 3 // Digital support is the weakest link in your customer journey

22     Trend 4 // Consumers don’t give feedback like they used to… so companies must listen in new ways

28     Methodology

 

TREND 1

Human connection

is the foundation of a winning AI strategy

Our research found that consumers are still on the fence about AI – driven by a primary concern that it will replace

a human to connect with. That desire for human connection rings true in their channel preferences, too – with most still preferring to interact with human channels over digital, especially for high-stakes tasks like resolving an issue with  a bill, and switching to digital for simpler, transactional activities like checking an order status.

OF CONSUMERS ARE COMFORTABLE

INTERACTING WITH AN ORGANIZATION’S AI

 OPINION

“It’s not a case of the first movers winning, but the best movers winning. Companies that get AI right, that apply it in ways that make things easier and more personal for customers,

will absolutely win.”

BRANDON HANSON, QUALTRICS CONTACT CENTER PRACTICE LEADER

HERE’S  HOW  CHANNEL  PREFERENCES  BREAK  DOWN  BY TASK

GET TECHNICAL

SUPPORT

So as organizations scramble to define their AI strategy, success will be defined by how well you know your customers. It starts with understanding when they want to talk to a human, when they don’t, and then leveraging AI to seamlessly meet those preferences as they move through the journey.

CUSTOMERS STILL PREFER HUMAN-SERVICE CHANNELS OVER DIGITAL

RESOLVE AN ISSUE  WITH  A  BILL

BOOK AN AIRLINE   TICKET

PURCHASE A NEW TV

GET STATUS ON AN ORDER YOU MADE

SELECT A NEW MOBILE  PHONE PLAN

APPLY FOR A NEW BANK ACCOUNT

HUMAN INTERACTION

62%

SCHEDULE   A MEDICAL

APPOINTMENT

DIGITAL INTERACTION

38%

RECEIVE ADVICE FROM A NURSE/DOCTOR ABOUT A MINOR ISSUE

81%

HUMAN INTERACTION DIGITAL INTERACTION

20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

 

“While AI is a powerful tool, we’re seeing businesses still require a professional human touch to make truly innovative and effective work. We aim to help them

balance this technology with the best of human ingenuity

by pairing them with the right freelance experts.”

 

MICHAL MILLER LEVI, FIVERR

SENIOR DIRECTOR MARKET RESEARCH AND INSIGHTS  ANALYSIS

“AI will enable humans to focus on being human. The challenge for organizations is identifying the tasks AI

does well and the tasks it doesn’t, so you focus AI on the right problems to solve.”

 

MAX VENKER, QUALTRICS

HEAD OF PRODUCT MARKETING, DIGITAL

CONSUMERS’ TOP 3 CONCERNS ABOUT AI

 

While AI will undoubtedly help you make simple, repeatable tasks more efficient — something consumers welcome (73% are comfortable using AI to check an order status) —

an effective AI strategy is not simply deploying more chatbots and automating tasks. Instead, look to the technology to empower your frontline teams with the tools, time, and insights to build stronger connections with your customers and make that a better experience, too.

 

LACK OF A HUMAN TO CONNECT TO POOR QUALITY OF THE INTERACTIONS

LOSS OF JOBS FOR EMPLOYEES

 

 ADVICE

 

“Organizations must understand customer needs, preferences, and perceptions and then offer experiences that match expectations.

That understanding will help you determine if that experience should be AI-enabled, human-enabled or humans supported  by AI in the background.”

MOIRA DORSEY, QUALTRICS XM INSTITUTE PRINCIPAL XM CATALYST

 

 ADVICE

 

“AI offers tremendous opportunities to organizations that implement it thoughtfully, but if customers detect a pure cost-saving attempt they will leave in droves.

So AI interactions must build confidence — trust from customers comes with consistency, accuracy and convenience.”

LEONIE BROWN, QUALTRICS PRINCIPAL XM SCIENTIST, CX

 

TREND 2

 

Great service beats low prices in the battle for customer loyalty

In 2024, despite predictions to the contrary, it’s not low price points driving consumer purchase decisions — our research found organizations with a great reputation for customer experience are best positioned to win share of wallet, even in a down economy.

Post-purchase experience is one of the biggest drivers of consumer purchase decisions — in our study, ‘customer service support’ ranks second only to ‘product quality’ –

even above ‘low prices’.

WHAT’S DRIVING CONSUMER PURCHASES IN 2024

 ANALYSIS

“If you want great customer experience, you need to start by focusing on the needs of frontline employees. Customer service interactions are where people have strong emotions, so they tend to be experiences they remember for a long time.”

BRUCE TEMKIN, QUALTRICS

HEAD OF QUALTRICS XM INSTITUTE

PRODUCT/SERVICE QUALITY

CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPPORT

LOW PRICE

EASY DIGITAL EXPERIENCE

DOES GOOD THINGS FOR SOCIETY

“The customer journey starts as you’re returning from your last trip. I want you to be thinking about what your next trip is going to be before you’ve left your last journey. The evidence shows, the better job we do on the current trip, the higher the likelihood that the customer is going

to choose us again for the next trip.”

 

 

 

ED BASTIAN, CEO AT DELTA AIRLINES SPEAKING AT X4

 

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Despite its importance, only 38% of CX professionals said they were prioritizing training their customer service agents and frontline teams.1 As leaders face pressure to cut costs, it’s critical to protect customer service, otherwise you risk leaving revenue on the table.

 

 

 
   

 

 

 

 

CONSUMER LOYALTY ISN’T DEAD, AFTER ALL

 

 
   

 

TRUST

 

 

 
   

 

+1.5 % POINTS YEAR-OVER-YEAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIKELIHOOD TO RECOMMEND

 

 

 

+1.9 % POINTS YEAR-OVER-YEAR

 

 

 

 

LIKELIHOOD TO PURCHASE MORE

 

 

 

+2.7 % POINTS YEAR-OVER-YEAR

 OPINION

 

“Variability is the biggest challenge to creating a consistently great experience. No company designs for a poor experience, but the level of variability can be too high and uncontrolled in organizations. Reducing that variability is the best place to start.”

BRANDON HANSON, QUALTRICS CONTACT CENTER PRACTICE LEADER

 

 

 

 

1 Qualtrics June/July 2023 study of CX professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ADVICE  

 

“Knowing which agent behaviors impact satisfaction, spend and loyalty, then tracking how agents perform

against those benchmarks will help you build a roadmap to improving customer service levels.”

LEONIE BROWN, QUALTRICS PRINCIPAL XM SCIENTIST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TREND 3

 

Digital support is the weakest link in your customer journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We looked at how consumers interact with companies across different channels to determine what parts of the journey work best, and where improvements need to be made. It quickly became clear that digital is a hotspot that needs fixing —

with the lowest satisfaction compared to human channels, but the highest upside if you get it right.

HOW SATISFACTION IMPACTS LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN BY CHANNEL/JOURNEY

 

 

DIGITAL  CHANNELS                                                 HUMAN CHANNELS

(Chat with a system, self-serve)                             (Meet, talk, chat with a human)

 

 

 

2.1X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ANALYSIS

 

“The investment in incredible digital experiences from digital native brands has raised the expectation for all brands.”

1.9X

 

MAX VENKER, QUALTRICS

HEAD OF PRODUCT MARKETING, DIGITAL

GETTING INFORMATION                                                           MAKING A PURCHASE                                                                                              RECEIVING SUPPORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ANALYSIS

 

“Lower preference for digital channels revealed in the data is largely influenced by consumer

expectations on the quality of those interactions. As organizations improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the digital experience, we should expect consumer appetite to also rise.”

 

BECKY TASKER, QUALTRICS

VP OF GROWTH & DEMAND GENERATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIGITAL SUPPORT IS WHERE THE JOURNEY BREAKS

The main issue in digital? The support experience.

As consumers go from making a purchase to resolving an issue online, the journey breaks down –

with satisfaction 22 % points lower compared to making a purchase.

 

However, for those that get digital support right,

the rewards are significant. We found customers are 2.7X more likely to return after a positive digital support experience — the highest of any channel and journey we looked at.

For over a decade, digital leaders have been

hyper-focused on customer acquisition, fine-tuning the experience to maximize conversion. It’s time to think beyond that approach. Our research highlights the opportunity for digital leaders to become an engine for retention and loyalty, too, increasing their value to the organization by focusing on both the pre- and

post-purchase journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACQUISITION (SATISFIED)

 

 

SUPPORT (SATISFIED)

 

 

 

86%

 

 

64%

 OPINION

 

“If you’re a contact center leader, you should be thinking about how you can enhance the digital experience. By working together,

and bringing your data and insights, you’ll add a tremendous amount

of value to the organization.”

 

BRANDON HANSON, QUALTRICS CONTACT CENTER PRACTICE LEADER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ADVICE

 

“Customers love the ease and convenience of digital, right up until they hit a problem, then frustration builds quickly.

Organizations should offer a seamless switch to alternative channels so customers continue to resolve the issue and don’t

just go elsewhere.”

 

LEONIE BROWN, QUALTRICS PRINCIPAL XM SCIENTIST, CX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’ve made it easier for our guests to access the brand in increasingly digital ways, which means we’re running more channels than we ever have. But that access and that ease for guests also means that at times, it’s more complex for restaurant teams. We’re aiming to make it easier for them — to allow the restaurant teams to know what’s important to guests and to make that actionable.”

 

 

ROB SWAIN, GLOBAL COO AT KFC SPEAKING AT X4

 

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TREND 4

 

Consumers don’t give feedback like they used to… so companies must listen in new ways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How and where consumers make their voices heard  is changing. We continue to see the long-term trend of

consumers giving less feedback, making understanding consumer experience ever more complex.

 

HOW CONSUMERS ARE PROVIDING FEEDBACK ABOUT A BAD EXPERIENCE… OR NOT

+3.8

%PTS

 

 

POINT DIFFERENCES

SINCE 2021

 

 

 

 

 ANALYSIS

 

“Even when customers don’t give feedback, they are talking to you in other ways — by spending less, visiting less frequently, and stopping

mentioning you. The question is, are you tuned into those cues?”

LEONIE BROWN, QUALTRICS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45%

 

 

-3.7

%PTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-7.2

%PTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26%

-2.4

%PTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21%

 

 

-3.7

%PTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21%
 
   

 

PRINCIPAL XM SCIENTIST, CX

TELL FRIENDS AND FAMILY

TELL THE COMPANY DIRECTLY

WILL LEAVE A REVIEW ONLINE

WILL SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

SAY NOTHING AT ALL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ADVICE

 

“Having a portfolio of listening tools is essential to success.

Organizations need a combination of qualitative, quantitative, structured, and unstructured data to modernize their CX management program.”

 

 

 

The most concerning trend is the fall in direct feedback that many legacy listening programs are built on. Since 2021, the number of consumers providing feedback directly to the companies they buy from has fallen by 7.2 % points, meaning that two-thirds of customers now won’t tell you when they’ve had a bad experience.

 

As feedback habits continue to change, you can no longer rely on surveys alone to understand how your customers really feel. Companies now need a diverse range of listening tools that allow you to tap into what customers say, and now more than ever, what they don’t say. By combining operational data such as average spend and frequency of visits with customer feedback from surveys, the contact center, social media and beyond, you can gain valuable insight into what’s happening and why.

MOIRA DORSEY, QUALTRICS PRINCIPAL XM CATALYST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   

 

OF CUSTOMERS WON’T TELL YOU WHEN THEY’VE HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE

 
   

 

UP 7.2 PTS SINCE 2021

 

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ADVICE

 

“As you incorporate more unstructured and unsolicited data sources, a key focus should be on providing insights to users across your organization with access to relevant snippets of video/audio/text that provide them with the depth they need to make decisions.”

 

BRUCE TEMKIN

HEAD OF QUALTRICS XM INSTITUTE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Growing a VoC program is a tough job. Find ways to get your stakeholders onside by making problem-solving collaborative and  not just any one-person’s responsibility. Offer solutions and approach customer pains as “problems to solve” not “someone’s fault”.

The data matters. The customer voice matters. And they should push us to do things differently when we determine customers are unhappy.”

 

 

ELLISE ROBERTS, GOTO CX PROJECT MANAGER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dive deeper into the trends

shaping consumer

experience

Prepare for the year ahead with data-driven insight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodology

The data for this report comes from a global consumer study that Qualtrics XM Institute conducted in the third quarter of 2023. Using an online survey, XM Institute collected data from 28,400 consumers across 26 countries/regions: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To ensure that the data was reflective of the population within those countries, we set quotas for responses to match the gender, age, and income demographics of each country.