Most Customers Will Abandon a Brand After Three – or Fewer – Negative Experiences, Finds Study

With new shoppers flocking online at greater rates than ever, customer acquisition has become a key part of retail strategy. But customer retention, and therefore customer satisfaction, could actually play a much larger role in growing revenue. New data shows that customers are abandoning brands after a maximum of three poor experiences, reflecting the need for brands to keep up the quality of their brand interactions.

In a survey of almost 2,000 U.S. consumers, retail experience platform Coveo found that 73% of consumers would stop buying from a brand after three negative customer service experiences. But identifying which experiences are deemed negative may be challenging; Coveo also found that nearly half of respondents (44%) would rarely or never complain about experiencing a negative interaction.

“The survey shows how quickly fading customer satisfaction can turn into customer abandonment, monkeywrenching the recurring revenue machine,” said the Coveo report. “Essentially, they [the customers] will just ghost you.”

Good customer service has always been a hallmark of a successful retail company, but recent digital innovations have complicated what it means to offer an efficient customer support system. Coveo observed that many brands see their customer support program as simply a “cost-savings effort,” with many businesses dumping a lot of information onto the website and hoping that will reduce the number of calls to the support center.

While directing consumers to a website FAQ or help page can indeed reduce the burden on human customer support staff, this alone won’t ensure a high quality experience. The inability to find information (44%) and finding conflicting information (23%) were two big reasons that consumers named for abandoning a brand altogether. Therefore these online information reserves need to be thorough and clear.

“Smart brands are transforming their web presences into service and support centers for existing customers, while also being attractive to prospective customers,” read the report. “They invest in their online experiences so that they anticipate customer concerns and alleviate them by serving up highly relevant content.”

Understanding the different preferences across age demographics can also be helpful for brands, so that they can tailor their offering to their consumer. Gen Z were the most likely to abandon a retailer if they can’t find the information for themselves online (50%), while 40% of Baby Boomers reported that they would rather speak to a person.

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