How Long Do Consumers Hold a Grudge after a Bad Customer Experience?

Thunderhead has just published a report that delivers the results of a survey that it took to try and discover how long a customer takes to recover brand loyalty after a single bad customer experience. The top level findings indicate that consumers can take up to a year to reach the same level of brand loyalty, once they have experience a single bad interaction with a company.

Now, although we obviously know that a bad customer experience will have a negative effect upon customer loyalty, very few research projects have attempted to produce a definitive answer on just how long customer dissatisfaction lasts. So how well does this report from Thunderhead do in pinning this tough statistic down?

The survey took in results from over 2,000 consumers in the UK, as well as bringing in the views of senior customer executives from 33 UK based businesses. The results indicate that of the consumers questioned, 24% of them would be put off from purchasing from the business for a year after a single negative customer experience, and more shockingly, that 23% of the would lose complete trust in the company, and never consider purchasing form them again.

Another rather surprising fact to come out of this research, is that even though companies are trying to engage with customers in real-time more effectively, using channels such as SMS and social media, 52% of consumers questioned responded that despite this, they had seen no improvement in customer service. Now this is a surprising fact. How do we account for this? Our only conclusion is that despite attempting to engage customers using customer feedback technology, that companies are missing the mark through ineffective implementation strategy.

Another interesting fact to come out of this research, is that a massive percentage of 92% of respondents indicated that being asked to provide the same information, multiple times during a service iteration, resulted in negative feelings about the business. The report highlights some issues that cause this problem, and this includes customer date being stored in non-integrated silos, which prevents the business receiving a true 360 degree view of the customer journey.

Overall, this is a very interesting research report, and one that tackles a truly fundamental issue. Not how improving the customer experience effects loyalty, but how not providing a smooth customer journey can rather heavily impact customer loyalty.


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