2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study
89% of consumers will switch brands if trust breaks down
UK brands are undermining consumer trust and risking revenues by failing to deliver consistent, multichannel customer service, according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study.
Trust is increasingly central to customer relationships. 89 percent of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Around half (49 percent) said they would switch immediately. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59 percent ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63 percent rated making processes easy and seamless as key.
While brands answered 69 percent of all routine queries via the web, email, Facebook and Twitter, this masked wide gaps between different brands, sectors and channels. For example, a bank took 8 days to respond to an email. One fashion retailer answered a tweet about ethical sourcing policies in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours.
Facebook and web lead the way – email and Twitter lag behind
The web was the most accurate and comprehensive channel for customer experience, with brands answering an average of 75 percent of routine queries. It was followed by Facebook, where brands successfully responded to 57 percent of questions (nearly doubling from 30 percent in 2017). This was significantly ahead of Twitter (45 percent), despite the channel’s reputation for delivering customer service.
Email brought up the rear. 37 percent of brands satisfactorily answered a basic question, with average speed ten times slower than social media. Chat continued to grow in importance, with 44 percent of brands claiming to offer it – yet just 26 percent had it operational when tested, a slight improvement on 2017’s 24 percent.
While brands answered 69 percent of queries overall, nearly a third either did not receive a response – or that replies failed to answer the question. This backs up consumer beliefs that brands are ignoring them – just 8 percent of respondents said that brands were listening all the time, missing out on the insight needed to drive improvements and strengthen trust.
Inconsistency and gaps
As well as accuracy, the Eptica Digital Trust Study also measured consistency between channels. Well over half (58 percent) of companies were completely inconsistent with no answers matching on more than one channel. Consistency varied wildly within sectors – for example, one travel company said on Twitter that it was free to amend a booking, but responded on Facebook saying it would cost £35 per person to do so.
The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat. Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation.