Customer Satisfaction Trends for 2018: What You Need to Know

Posted by Rant & Rave

December 6, 2017

Customer-Satisfaction-Trends-for-2018-What-You-Need-to-Know.jpgA customer satisfaction survey seemingly pops into our mailbox every time we make a purchase, engage in a call centre interaction or check out of a hotel room. We’re all familiar with this form of follow up, typically from the brands who want to know whether they’ve hit the mark or not when it comes to satisfaction. The attraction for CX professionals and data-hungry marketers is clear, they’ll gather, score and analyse this data, informing them on where they need to make improvements to help boost their CSat score.

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The way consumers spend and engage with brands has completely evolved, meaning that surveys and CX metrics alone are not going to give you the answers you’re looking for. You’re likely to find yourself drawing insight from just a small window of your customer base, leading you to false conclusions. Low response rates will complicate matters and on top of this you’ll fail to capture the feelings and thoughts of your customers.

If you really want to get under the skin of your customers then you’ll need to drive change and recognise customer satisfaction trends and technologies for the coming year - In 2018 it’s going to be vital to engage customers and keep customer effort low.

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Consumer Behaviour Has Changed

The facts and figures customer satisfaction professionals have always relied on are being obscured by today's consumers with their adventurous, experimental and downright disruptive approach to interacting with products, services and brands. How are marketing professionals meant to keep up, and how are those charged with CX meant to measure customer satisfaction levels as the goalposts move and expectations shift?

Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth, reported that businesses that exclusively use customer satisfaction scores have a churn rate of 60-80%, even though they were satisfied or very satisfied in their last CSAT survey.

Identifying peculiarities as exceptions to the rule is tempting. However, what can you do when they start to become the rule? You can begin by simply paying attention, recognising that unorthodox customer behaviour has gone mainstream and it's time for brands to rise to the challenge.

The customer satisfaction trends for 2018 are going to mirror what we’ve seen in the past few years. Businesses should focus on how they efficiently implement and leverage the right digital technology, having the right tools to measure customer satisfaction and how they will get under the surface of the customer journey. This will in essence provide the building blocks for a great customer experience and allow businesses to close the loop with their efforts - capturing customer feedback at every touchpoint to drive customer-centricity and ensure they’re driving customer satisfaction.

Traditional businesses now need to adapt to the trends that are emerging in consumer behaviour. The landscape is changing, and brands need to learn how to measure customer satisfaction for this growing army of so-called 'Millennials'. Failure to do so will mean losing out to an increasingly large and ever-fickle customer base that values things like brand perception and customer experience over cost saving.


“The numbers are daunting. Forrester’s empowered customer research reveals that 40% of consumers (Progressive Pioneers and Savvy Seekers) have a high willingness and ability to shift spend rapidly upon a poor experience.” 

- Victor Milligan, Chief Marketing Officer, Forrester

Pretty much all of the competitive markets are currently in some form of transition or adaptation. Global political unrest, slow economic recovery and cybersecurity worries mean that a massive wave of sleeping giants and seemingly Teflon-coated organisations now realise that they need to adapt soon before the new kids on the block become a genuine threat - watch out for digital banks. Large retailers are beginning to merge the omnichannel customer journey beyond the simple idea of 'click and collect', opting instead for a smarter and more seamless physical and digital experience. This is a direct consequence of existing in a customer-led and digital-centric market.

Aligning with this new customer profile is all about understanding your customers’ emotions and more importantly, undertaking a real examination of the customer journey within your business - then working on how it can be improved. If you want to truly understand and measure exactly how engaged and satisfied your customers are with your products or services, you're going to have to think outside the box and explore beyond those all-too-familiar dashboard metrics.


Executives have spent years firing out endless customer service surveys as the ‘perfect’ way to track customer experience. They’ll take to Google, typing in terms like ‘best practices in measuring customer satisfaction’, looking for innovative approaches to help drive up their response rates. Unfortunately, many of these CX professionals are encountering the same old approaches - a lengthy survey with leading questions, failing to capture what really matters to the customer.

Most have since realised that it takes a combination of measurements to get things right. Your Net Promoter score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction score (CSat) (or alternative CX metric) only tells a small part of the wider story of your customer's’ relationship with your brand. Focusing solely on these number-based metrics, means you're missing out on the primary loyalty driver that exists in your customer base...


Understanding the emotions of your customers will help you better tailor what you offer them. This isn’t to say you should stop asking the question of ‘why’, you need to capture this along with sentiment to establish context and draw actionable insights, brands just need that final puzzle piece to get closer to their customers.

McKinsey’s research into the banking industry highlights how important emotion is;

“The impact of frontline emotional intelligence on the bottom line is clear. After a positive experience, more than 85 percent of customers increased their value to the bank”


As we get ready to wave goodbye to 2017 and tip our hats to 2018, a lot of CX professionals will be pondering on just how to enforce positive change and improvement in their Voice of the Customer programmes. As with many things, the answer isn’t going to be single tiered, there are many facets to an efficient and sustainable improvement plan. We’d advise you to tackle and measure each component separately so you can track your progress and see a real boost in customer satisfaction.

Instead of revisiting the basics on how to measure customer satisfaction we’re going to focus on five trends we expect to make a big impact in 2018...

Struggling for time to read the full article? Why not check out the key takeaways and come back to us when you've got a little more time on your hands...

CMOs Will Be Forced To Adapt

In a world where marketing channels continue to grow, brands have more opportunities than ever to engage their customers and capture feedback. However, this can also present huge gaps in experience or leave brands falling behind - It will be paramount for businesses to get a handle on this and respond to demand. Senior executives such as CMOs will quickly find their methods outdated and ineffectual if they refuse to accept this and work closely with other top execs to adapt to the new customer environment. Those that obsess over the wrong metrics or fail to understand customer emotion will find themselves unable to keep up. Old school C-Suite marketing heads need to recognise the shift to the new experiential way and adapt to this new emotion-led approach to understand and measure customer satisfaction.

Technology is no longer just the remit of the CIO, either. If CMOs aren’t capable of fully appreciating, understanding and embracing the latest technological innovations, then they’re doing their brand a disservice. Never has technology had a more noticeable impact on customer experience and how customers want to feedback about their thoughts and feelings.

Single Experiences Will Be So Important That Mistakes Have To Be All But Eradicated

Brand loyalty could well be a thing of the past. Millennials aren’t afraid to shift their allegiances on a whim and that behaviour now looks to have become the norm across other demographics.
Consumers are prepared to sever ties and turn their spending to competitors based on a single poor experience. You can call it fickle or responsive, but it’s not changing, so brands need to view it as something to learn from - and quickly before you see some unhappy faces around the boardroom table.

If all it takes now is one single negative experience to sour a customer’s view of a brand, that means there is currently no margin for error. Performing adequately and delivering the expected has to be a guarantee and those who really want to delight customers will need to expand on this offering. Customer journeys need to be watertight if firms want to stop their customers shifting to a competitor - one way to do that is to consistently deliver great experiences, and strive to learn and improve based on insight from your customer feedback.

Soft Data Will Become Just As Valuable As Big Data

Historically, the inclination with customer feedback has always been towards numbers. The more, the merrier. ‘Big data’ opened the door on a wealth of analytics and that approach makes sense. The more information you have, the better your scope. Organisations have been struggling with this pool of big data for years and trying to extract meaningful numbers - often at the expense of depth.
Emotive responses take longer to process and understand, but one in-depth answer capturing emotion during the CX journey can be worth a thousand tick box surveys or social likes.

This is not to say that CX professionals should stop looking at their NPS or CSat scores, the numbers are important but they need to make sure they’re asking this question in the right way and that they surface not just ‘the why’ but also how customers are feeling.

VR Is Finally Emerging But Try To Stay Focused On Tech That’s Successful

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality haven’t fully developed and become part of everyday life quite yet, despite what we were promised some time ago. Investment in this area will continue to grow over time and it looks as though it will evolve slowly rather than explode to the forefront of customer experience. So concentrating on enhancing customer experience with VR/AR before you’ve nailed your online and offline strategies first probably isn’t the smartest idea. By all means investigate, research and invest - but only do so once you fully understand the customer journey and are successfully managing the channels you’ve established. 

We’ve witnessed large social networks and technologies plummet in popularity in recent years so it’s important to grasp onto innovations and channels but do your due diligence first. Don’t waste time or your budget figuring out ways to exploit a new channel that won’t be around in three years.

Bots Will Start To Make Their Move

It’s important to not treat emerging tech as the answer to all of your problems, but we’re going to be a little disruptive and talk about an area where we see huge potential.
Chatbots have fully emerged and they aren’t far from being the go to tool for many businesses, assisting with the demands placed on sales, marketing and support functions. In fact, in the short space of time that messaging bots have been a part of the customer journey, they’ve already become the preferred way for people under 55 to deal with customer service issues.

The reason they work so well now is that the bots can mimic human interaction and even elicit empathy and some level of personality. The key will be to drive feedback from these interactions, expanding your methods of driving customer satisfaction and keeping customer effort low. Bots are cheaper than staff, available 24/7 and can track every aspect of the customer journey and record the data and feedback automatically. 2018 might just be the Year of the Bot.

Convenience Will Be Key - Ensure Customer Effort Is Kept Low

As the customer moves between online and offline channels it will be hard for brands to measure this activity and ensure that they’re delivering an exceptional experience. One thing is certain though, with the rise in customer expectation they expect convenience at every touchpoint and it’s the responsibility of the brand to manage this. Delighting customers is something we all dream about, but many businesses haven’t achieved step one - driving customer satisfaction.

The best way to tackle this is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, take yourself through your own brand experience and highlight any areas of friction or effort and start to devise ways to overcome them. This is how brands will survive the changing tide, providing convenience will go a long way and be recognised in the eye of the consumer.


2018 CX Trends Key Takeaways...


Dismissing changes in customer behaviour is dangerous - Just because it’s new and unusual, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a fad. Try to understand why your customers are acting against type.

It’s all about the ‘experience’ - The new customer is driven by how they feel about their journey. Traditional drivers are far less important now and consumers are more fickle than ever.

Metrics aren’t everything - Your CX metrics are still helpful, but they shouldn’t be treated as gospel. It’s essential to establish a way to understand, gauge and track your customer’s emotions too.

Marketing leaders need to be flexible and learn new skills - To survive, CMOs and Marketing Directors need to appreciate analysis and psychology simultaneously. Interpretation of trends and the ability to incorporate technology into the mix is now vital.

The market is fickle - It might sound unfair, but vast swathes of people will now be completely turned off by a brand if they have just one bad experience with them. So you might only have a single shot with some consumers.

Invest in tech carefully - No one wants to get left behind with technological innovation, but focus on what you know to work before heading into the unknown.

Convenience is key - With the rise in customer expectations we need to ensure that we provide a seamless experience without any friction. Take yourself through your customer journey and evaluate each touchpoint based on customer effort.

It’s crucial that as you implement new technology and evolve CX programmes that you cater for customer emotion, it’s a significant driver behind consumer behaviour. It takes a little more time to dissect and understand emotional responses. They’re often anecdotal and only tell one story, but emotional feedback tells that story in terrific detail.

It’s important not to underestimate the value of giving customers a platform to share their thoughts and opinions with you in a frank and open manner. This way you can gauge their emotions and extract real insight from their responses. If you can achieve this you'll understand what really matters and as a result drive real customer satisfaction into 2018.

Want to shake up your CX? Click here to get your hands on expert advice from the likes of HomeServe, Dunelm, Capita M&S, plus many more in our latest eBook...

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Topics: Customer Satisfaction

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