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Consumers remain underwhelmed despite big digital switch

Businesses that fail to capitalize on the public’s digital curiosity risk losing customers, say 44% of consumers

Only 29% of consumers globally believe the companies they interact with* now deliver an improved digital experience Consumers seek a high level of security and protection (65%), ease of use across all their devices (44%) 46% prefer an increased use of VR by retailers to better understand how products might look in their homes

Only 29% of consumers around the world believe the companies they interact with now deliver an improved digital experience compared to before the pandemic. The stark findings from a new study from VMware – of more than 9,000 consumers – revealed that while there has been a seismic digital switch, businesses have not captured the attention of customers, who are feeling largely underwhelmed. 

Key industries have fallen short on delivering cutting-edge digital experiences, according to the research.  Those experiences might range, for example, from retailers moving to enable card payments, to tracking deliveries online from factory to home, or engaging with a new application that provides an even greater level of customization throughout the ordering process. This is despite 64% of survey respondents identifying themselves as ‘digitally curious’ or ‘digital explorers’ signaling a receptive and readily available digital audience. This should act as both a warning and opportunity for businesses, with nearly 49% stating they would switch to a competitor if their digital experience doesn’t live up to expectations – just 12% would remain loyal. 

Matthew O’Neil, Industry Managing Director, Advanced Technology Group, VMware said: “There is no question that the development of new digital experiences has been integral to many businesses’ very survival over the past 12 months. However, while many companies successfully made the digital switch, our consumer insight shows that many have not delighted their customers with these new online experiences. Businesses who fail to focus on improving digital experiences are likely to lose customers – but those that do it well have everything to play for.”

Consumers’ digital expectations should come as no great surprise: they are seeking a high level of security and protection of their data (65%), ease of use across all their devices (44%), and simple and effective applications (39%). What is clear is that consumers want companies to get things right the first time. Even in this difficult climate, only 30% of respondents feel more forgiving when trials for new digital services, aimed at improving the customer experience, go wrong.

There is also an appetite for more digital-first experiences for those organizations that want to truly impress their customers. Almost half (46%) would welcome an increased use of virtual reality by retailers to better understand how products might look in their homes, and 43%  see their phone as more important than their wallet for financial transactions – rising to over half (51%) in  18-24-year-olds surveyed.

Matthew O’Neil continued: “2020 was the year of the digital switch. In 2021 digital services will need to live up to consumer expectations. That means creating, delivering, and protecting great applications, services, and experiences for digitally-hungry consumers. And a move from digitizing to becoming digital.”