The volume of customers giving feedback directly to brands after a bad customer experience in Australia declined in 2023, according to new research released by Qualtrics. However, a drop in feedback has not resulted in happier customers, with findings also showing consumer trust, advocacy and intent to rebuy all fell over the same period.

Findings in the 2024 Consumer Experience Trends Report show almost three-quarters of consumers (72%) do not share feedback directly with a brand after a bad experience, up six points from 2021. In contrast, half of consumers say they will tell their friends and family, 28% will give feedback to the company, 14% will leave an online review, and 13% post to social media.

Consumers are also giving less direct feedback after good experiences. One-quarter of consumers (27%) will give feedback to the company about a good experience, half will tell their friends and family, 19% will leave an online review, and 13% post to social media.

While consumers may be giving brands less direct feedback, they continue to share their experiences in less direct ways across a variety of channels and times, such as in call centre conversations, online reviews, online, and in-person.

“Australian consumers expect more than ever from the organisations they engage with, but fewer people are sharing direct feedback about the experiences they have with organisations,” Qualtrics XM Institute principal XM catalyst, Moira Dorsey said.

“Brands need to find new ways to capture valuable customer feedback in all the places where it’s being shared – like on social media, call transcripts, chat logs, and review sites – and combine it with operational data – such as average spend and visit frequency – to gain insight into what consumers are doing and better understand how to serve them better.”

The CX trends in 2024

The Qualtrics study shows consumer expectations are on the rise heading into 2024 with a seamless experience expected across every channel from shopping online through to calling customer support or using a chatbot. As AI becomes a bigger part of daily life, consumers are putting a premium on human connection and rewarding brands that deliver exceptional digital support.

The shift in how consumers give feedback is one of four trends highlighted by Qualtrics set to define the consumer experience in 2024:

  • Human connection is the foundation of a winning AI strategy
  • Great service beats low prices in the battle for customer loyalty
  • Digital support is the weakest link in your customer journey
  • Consumers don’t give feedback like they used to, so companies must listen in new ways

A winning AI strategy must address fears of losing human connection

While organisations are focused on adopting and deploying AI to build deeper connections with customers such as by identifying and rapidly responding to issues, writing communications or personalising experiences and recommendations, Australian consumers are less excited about the changes. Slightly more than one-third of consumers say they are comfortable with AI-powered services and communications (compared to 48% globally), expressing concerns with a lack of human connection, misuse of personal data, the possibility people will lose their jobs and service quality.

Almost two-thirds of consumers (64%) still prefer to interact with brands via human channels instead of digital (36%), and the most successful initial AI strategies will see organisations use the technology to power transactional engagements and equip frontline employees with the tools, insights, and ability to deliver higher levels of customer service.

The top AI concerns among consumers is lack of human connection (59%), misuse of personal data (54%), loss of jobs (54%), interaction quality (51%) and trust in information (42%).

Product quality and service more important than price

Despite current inflationary pressure, price is not the deciding factor in purchase decisions for most consumers. Product and service quality (63%) primarily dictate how consumers spend their money, with price (52%) followed by customer service support (47%).

Despite being equally satisfied making a purchase online or in person, globally consumers are 2.7 times more likely to return if they had great digital support, compared to 2.5 times after great customer support from a person. Consumers are six percentage points less likely to be satisfied by their digital customer support experience, compared to human support.