Here’s what takes the fun out of shopping, and no, it isn't the price tag
- Ineffective messaging, lack of visibility and control, and multiple attempts to find the right product or service take the fun out of
- Banking is the most difficult sector to shop, while retail is the easiest.
- Across retail and e-commerce, returns and replacements are major pain points for customers.
AdvertisementShopping is fun but can also be stressful, according to a new report. Ineffective messaging, lack of visibility and control, and multiple attempts to find the right product or service are the pain points for customers, says human engagement consulting firm Terragni Consulting in its EAS (Effort Assessment Score) Index 2023 report.
Terragni analyzed 2,500 responses to understand the effort or “friction” that customers experience when engaging with a brand across retail, e-commerce, banking and insurance sectors – across online and offline products. As per Terragni, the three dimensions of effort are cognitive (or perceived), physical and time.
“If you want the customer to do something, not only does it need to be easy to do. It also needs to feel easy to do. This is called perceived effort. Our cognitive resources are limited and can make simple tasks appear complex, giving rise to a perception of friction that may or may not exist in the real world,” shared Dr Anil Pillai, director, Terragni Consulting.
It comes as no surprise that banking continues to be the most difficult sector as measured by ease of customer experience, despite the rapid strides in digitisation. Retail is the least difficult sector.
Though digitisation reduced physical effort, shorter delivery times and wide variety have made customers increasingly intolerant. Even small delays in the digital world impact customer perception of a brand, states the report.
“While the increasing use of technology and digital journeys has done wonders in driving down physical and temporal effort, the very proliferation of this technology and usage of digital structures has led to the increase in the perception of friction. Nowhere is this more apparent than in banking, e-commerce, and to an extent, insurance,” states Pillai.
Being spoilt for choice is stressful
While ‘adding to cart’ seems and sounds easy, the actual purchase can take a lot longer – as customers are spoilt for choice and constantly chasing a better deal.
As many as 41% of respondents say that the most time-consuming stage in e-commerce is finding the right product. 58% of respondents also shared that finding the right product required multiple attempts. Choice overload, lack of complete information, and irrelevant recommendations are the key contributing factors.
As the widely popular memes on the topic will attest, product delivery is also a major source of stress. “The effort of scheduling delivery times, anticipation of the product, and the anxiety that the right product will get delivered are primary drivers of high perceived effort,” states Terragni.
AdvertisementNo stage in e-commerce is as stress-inducing as getting relevant support – an area where many barely move past the “pleasant” tunes of customer service helplines. Over 60% of respondents needed three or more iterations to get relevant support, stated Terragni.
Return and replacement aren’t easy either in e-commerce, primarily due to the need for multiple follow-ups. In some ways, physical shopping is easier. “Despite the physical effort and time required to shop in a physical store format, the ability to actually see a product gives a higher sense of control,” states Terragni.
But, even in retail, returns and in-store support remain major pain points. Because customers have actually seen and felt a product before buying, returning or replacing it induces greater stress, especially if it requires an additional physical trip to the store.
In banking, digital isn’t necessarily easier
AdvertisementIssue resolution also continues to remain extremely effortful for customers with over two-thirds of respondents (64%) requiring multiple attempts for a satisfactory resolution.
“This (service recovery) is a large contributor to the high effort perception associated with the industry, despite the staggering investments in technology and customer experience,” states Terragni.
As per the report, the time and attempts taken to get the desired product increased in the insurance sector as well, post-pandemic. Over 50% of respondents needed two or more attempts to find the right product.
Despite the ease of premium payment, the difficulty in establishing the relevance of insurance has led to customers approaching it as a “necessary evil”, and not a desired goal, states Terragni.
Claims and service recovery continue to be weak links, with 60% of the respondents requiring multiple attempts for issue resolution. “High effort in this step means that the customer will shift at the first opportunity,” states the report. Moreover, 60% of the complaints with the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) in 2022 were to do with claims settlement.
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