Customer experience failures are more likely to be remembered than successes – Interview with Paige O’Neill of SDL


Today’s interview is with Paige O’Neill who is Chief Marketing Officer of SDL, a global Customer Experience software solutions provider. Paige joins me today to talk about SDL’s latest global Customer Experience Thought Leadership research into when Customer Experience fails (and when it triumphs), exactly what happens, and why?

This interview follows on from my recent interview – How we transformed our organisation and our customer experience – Interview with Damian Thompson of Principality Building Society– and is number 153 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Highlights of my interview with Paige:

  • This interview follows on from a previous interview with Mark Lancaster, SDL’s CEO.
  • SDL recently released some new research that looks at customer experience failures over the last 10 years. They explored three questions:
    • 1. Where does customer experience go wrong?
    • 2. Can you ever win back ex-customers?
    • 3. What gets customers to recommit?
  • The research results can be seen here -Brand Relationships: The Good Is Expected; The Bad Goes Viral
  • One of their major findings was that two-thirds of the over 3,000 customers that they surveyed remembered a major customer experience failure over the last 10 years. However, less than half of them remembered a success.
  • Following a failure, 64% of customers will stop recommending a brand, 30% will immediately start looking at competitors and 12% said that they would go negative on the brand and may even say so on their social media networks.
  • Customers said that failures occurred across the customer life-cycle with 25% experiencing a failure in the research phase and 20% experienced a failure when they tried to make a purchase (online and in store). But, surprisingly, 79% reported experiencing a failure one they had purchased the product, had gotten it home and then tried to use it.
  • This use failure ranged from the product didn’t live up to its hype to a customer struggling to get a use question answered.
  • A lot of these failures (61%) can be traced back to a human or process failure i.e. lack of training or lack of empowerment.
  • Meanwhile, 35% experienced poor response times to their questions and 15% said that they never heard back from the company.
  • To get customers to come back, they want an apology combined with an admission of failure. An apology is not enough.
  • They also said that they want some kind of restitution i.e some money back on that transaction or compensation.
  • Coupons or discounts on future purchases did not go down well as it assumes that there will a future relationship.
  • Poor customer service is at the heart of 81% of all of these failures.
  • The research also found that, counter to some stereotypes, the British came out as the top country when to comes to being willing to complain publicly (to their friends or on social media but possibly not face to face) about customer experience failures. 24% of customers in the UK are willing to air their grievances in public vs. 12% in the US.
  • However, all is not lost. 82% of all customers said they would like to resolve the issue they had with the brand following the failure.
  • But, despite what they said and their good intentions 80% ended up never coming back.
  • However, of the 20% that did come back, 62% of them said that they would be less loyal.
  • In the midst of all this talk of failure, the research also found that 75% of all positive experiences are attributed to receiving good customer experience.
  • The human touch powered by good enabling technology is the sweet spot and is the area that companies need to focus on to deliver great customer experiences.
  • Check out the work that SDL do at and the research at Brand Relationships: The Good Is Expected; The Bad Goes Viral

About Paige (taken from her SDL bio)

Paige O'Neill - SDL.comAs Chief Marketing Officer of SDL, Paige brings almost 20 years of experience in senior marketing roles. She uniquely combines product marketing expertise with an extensive background in communications and PR and a passion for developing thought leadership programs that build strong awareness and differentiate companies from the competition.

Prior to SDL, Paige served for over three years as Vice President of Marketing for integrated marketing leader Aprimo. Her thought leadership, messaging, demand generation and communications programs contributed to rapid growth and a successful acquisition by Teradata. Paige also served as the CMO for two early-stage startups, Aravo Solutions and GreenRoad Technologies, as well as for PHH Arval, where her efforts contributed to an acquisition attempt by GE. Prior to PHH, Paige spent a decade at Oracle Corporation leading a variety of marketing initiatives.

You can say Hi to Paige on Twitter @paige_oneill and SDL @SDL. Also, connect with Paige on LinkedIn here.

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

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