At a time when the pandemic-fueled surge in online shopping has led to record eCommerce sales, new research from digital experience software firm Sitecore shows that consumers’ expectations are also at an all-time high and that they are very unforgiving when things don’t go smoothly.
According to the report, while housebound consumers may have shopped more they are also more demanding than ever and now expect exceptional digital experiences wherever they shop or do business online — and when they don’t get it, they leave.
“70 percent of post-COVID consumers now navigate away from a site if a few clicks fail to return results they need,” Sitecore said, adding that nearly 80 percent of marketers have had to fundamentally change their customer experience strategies in response to the changes in consumer behavior.
“The digital customer behaviors we were expecting by 2030 arrived in 2020; not by the customer’s own choice, but driven by a world that needed to switch to digital-only engagement literally overnight to survive and thrive during the pandemic,” Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neill said. “Consequently, rising expectations of exceptional customer experience and speed of reaction to a new consumer climate is the new battleground across industries.”
Impact On Executives
The effort to meet the rising digital demands of increasingly fickle shoppers is also apparently putting a lot of pressure on CMOs and other marketing executives, Sitecore said, finding that 6 in 10 employees in these roles reported that they were ready to quit their job at least once last year.
In addition, roughly 8 in 10 marketers also described the current era as “the most challenging time in the history of their careers,” noting their increased responsibilities, including customer acquisition, virtual services and social responsibility and sustainability.
At the same time, CMOs’ marketing teams reported increased internal and external stressors to meet the changing demand including pressure from upper management to boost results, impromptu changes in strategy and unrealistic deadlines.
“Our survey shows the extreme pressure that marketers underwent in the previous 12 months, indicating that no one could have anticipated the extreme speed and agility required to meet the accelerating consumer demands. Going forward, marketers must accept that this is the new norm, and we aren’t going back to where we were before,” O’Neill said.
Coping With Demand
While stressful, the pandemic pressures have also produced many positive outcomes, the report said, with three-quarters of respondents citing greater innovation, corporate embrace of advanced technologies and highly improved customer connectivity as a result of the compressed digital transformation.
“A less patient, fickler customer, [has seen] brands fighting harder to maintain customer loyalty,” the study said, cautioning that 70 percent of consumers will navigate away from a site and choose an alternative if they can’t find what they need in just a few clicks, and two-thirds of consumer saying they are now less patience with slow or poorly functioning websites since the pandemic.