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Despite unprecedented digital innovation, consumer sentiment sinks in last months of 2013

Chicago, Illinois, February 10, 2014 — OpinionLab, the pioneer and global leader in Omnichannel Voice of Customer (VoC) feedback solutions, today released the findings of its newest Customer Opinion Index (COI) Report. The report shows that customer experience and satisfaction scores fell in nearly all key industries in the last months of 2013. In particular, online-only and omnichannel retail saw customer sentiment slip during the holiday shopping season. The holiday experience also fell flat for travelers as COI scores for travel and airlines dropped during the busy December season.

“Customer experiences generally did not live up to changing consumer expectations as we exited 2013 and headed into the New Year,” said Jonathan Levitt, chief marketing officer at OpinionLab.  “The data indicates that, while there is tremendous digital innovation, new capabilities are not yet translating into happier consumers.  Whether they were taking flights, booking hotel rooms, buying products, or requesting insurance quotes, customers registered poorer experiences across the board as the year came to a close.”

For retailers in particular, there are a number of possibilities as to what could have caused such a shift.

“When you add up the impact of heightened concern around security and privacy in the wake of data breaches at major retailers, combined with well-publicized challenges around the holidays in the last mile of the fulfillment chain, that helps explain why online-only and omnichannel retailers stumbled heading into 2014,” said Levitt.

In addition to assigning an overall experience score by industry, the COI Report also benchmarks core digital functions (search, information, loyalty) over the course of 2013 to identify the areas of the digital customer experiences where brands are making clear progress and highlight the areas where performance is trending downward.

  • The report finds that brands have made significant improvements in the experience they provide on their home page, as well as service and support capabilities (which have jumped almost 10% over 2013). Basic research functions such as search and product information held steady over the course of the year.
  • Conversely, customer sentiment around loyalty pages [and programs] slipped 10% over the course of 2013 (from a measured 3.69 out of 5.00 to 3.30) over the course of 2013. This slide indicates that loyalty is a much more difficult concept to master in the omnichannel era, where consumers have an abundance of choices and barriers to switching are lower than ever.

The challenges and advantages of omnichannel were clearly reflected in consumer’s feedback on the performance of pure-play and omnichannel retailers in critical functional areas. Omnichannel retailers enjoyed a significant advantage when it came to both search and checkout functions based on their ability to showcase local store inventory counts within search results, as well as providing the convenience and instant gratification of store pickup options at checkout. Kirkland’s is one great example of the omnichannel advantage. At the end of Q4 2013, Kirkland’s omnichannel COI score–derived from real-time, opt-in customer feedback–stood at 691, which tops the retail sector and is among the best scores of all OpinionLab clients.

“The data shows that we have shifted from showrooming to webrooming,” said Levitt. “Major omnichannel retailers have adopted an arsenal of new tactics – including cross-channel price matching, smart technology, highly-informed store associates, and fulfillment flexibility—that gives them the edge on many fronts.”

More detailed scores and rankings, as well as top performers Kirkland’s and UMB Financial Corporation are included in the free report, available for download here.

About the COI Report

OpinionLab’s quarterly COI report provides insight into top customer experience trends across industries, including financial services, insurance, hospitality, healthcare, retail and travel. The COI is the first and only omnichannel customer experience benchmark measuring brand health and performance across all channels and touchpoints including web, mobile and physical locations. 
OpinionLab analyzes millions of pieces of real customer feedback to provide clear metrics and standardized scores on overall experience, channel performance, and functional areas (such as account management, checkout and service/support). Benchmarks include an overall COI score, calculated on a 0 to 1000 scale, as well as Functional Mean Ratings, which score functions on a 1 – 5 scale. 

About OpinionLab

OpinionLab is the pioneer and global leader in omnichannel Voice of Customer (VoC) feedback innovation with over a decade of success and a dozen patents on major VoC advancements. Starting with the familiar [+] feedback symbol, the company¹s end-to-end solution suite allows clients to improve the omnichannel experience with precise, real-time intelligence into what customers want and need. Global leaders choose OpinionLab for actionable VoC insight across web, mobile, store and product touchpoints. Recently recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America, OpinionLab is proud to service over half of the Fortune 50, including Walmart, Bank of America, and Ford Motor Company. For more information, visit OpinionLab online, read the blog or follow Voice of Customer on Twitter.

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