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Increasing consumer power reflected in expectations around communications, data protection and data value 

European consumers feel they have more power over businesses, and are increasingly willing to use it, research from Quadient– formerly GMC Software – has revealed. In a Lightspeed survey of 8,061 adults in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, more than three quarters (76 percent) of respondents said they would switch from a business that doesn’t meet their customer experience expectations. Factors such as customer communications and how businesses protect personal data were increasingly critical factors in whether consumers will support a business.

“The shift in power towards consumers is just one of the four fundamental forces businesses face as they try to offer the best possible customer experience,” said Ian Clarke, EMEA and APAC President, Quadient. “They must also deal with an ever-expanding volume of data; make best use of new communication channels created in the digital transition; and, however they deliver their customer experience, do so while maintaining regulatory compliance. The stakes are high – those businesses that cannot understand and adapt to these forces will swiftly see themselves overtaken by the competition, and abandoned by customers.”

As well as feeling more powerful, the research also shows that European consumers have a greater appreciation of their own value. Consumers value the personal data they share with businesses at a minimum of €151 a month – which they expect businesses to match through better customer experiences such as free or improved services, discounts and special offers. This value is particularly high in the Netherlands (€172 a month) and the UK (€166 a month). Other key facts include:

  • Almost half (44 percent) of Europeans believe they have more power compared to five years ago (rising to 52 percent in the UK).
  • 83 per cent of Europeans (including 90 percent of French consumers) say customer communication is an important factor when deciding whether or not to stick with a business.
  • 77 percent of Europeans say that how well businesses protect their data is a major consideration when deciding whether or not to use them. This rises to 81 percent in Germany.
  • Just five percent of Europeans don’t consider data protection at all; falling to just two percent in Germany.

The research also investigates how well different sectors are performing in meeting consumers’ customer experience expectations:

  • Most European customers ranked retail (30 percent) as the industry that had made the most progress towards meeting customer expectations, followed by banking (26 percent) and healthcare (24 percent).
  • Local government has the most room for improvement, with 41 percent of Europeans ranking it as the sector that has made the least progress towards meeting customer expectations.
  • More than half (53 percent) of Europeans also ranked local government as the worst sector for using mobile apps to communicate and provide services. 37 per cent of Europeans say banking is doing the best (39 percent in The Netherlands and the UK), with retail (35 percent) also performing well. The insurance industry has some catching up to do, with just eight per cent of consumers saying it was the best when it comes to mobile apps.

“Whether they like it or not, businesses in every industry have to adapt to consumers’ new power and customer experience expectations,” Clarke concluded. “For instance, using mobile apps to both communicate and provide essential services is a hallmark of the modern customer experience, yet some industries are lagging behind even in this. Whether leading the field in banking and retail, or struggling to catch up in local government, businesses need to ensure they can connect with current and future customers through exceptional, meaningful and accurate experiences across the entire organisation. Without this, consumers will never feel that they are getting the value they expect from customer experience.”