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Upset and Disappointed: 82% of Consumers Give Brands the Thumbs Down

More than a third of those surveyed said they will drop a brand after one bad experience

People are upset and disappointed by the experiences brands are providing according to a new study conducted by Oracle in partnership with Jeanne Bliss, customer experience pioneer and founder of Customer Bliss. The new study, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All,” includes insights from over 1,100 U.S. consumers across four generations and found that 43% of people blacklist brands that fail to meet their expectations and that a lack of trust in brands is making it increasingly difficult to influence purchasing behavior.

“Relationships between brands and consumers begin when a customer has faith in a company and that trust must be constantly earned—it cannot be bought and can be easily lost,” said Jeanne Bliss. “As this study shows, consumers are attracted to brands that go the extra mile to deliver personalized experiences and are willing to take decisive action when their expectations are not met. The key takeaway here is that one size doesn’t fit all and if you invest in customer experience, your customers will invest in you.”

Consumers are Disappointed and are Taking Decisive Action

The majority of consumers (82%) have had an experience with a brand that is disappointing or upsetting and more than three quarters of consumers (78%) say they have had an experience where they were not satisfied with the customer service provided. As brands fall short, consumers are taking decisive action.

  • Almost half (43%) of consumers have blacklisted a brand as the result of a bad experience; while more than one third (34%) of consumers said they would never shop with a company again after just one bad experience.
  • 88% of consumers share their negative experiences. The majority will tell their friends and family (59%), while only 35% will contact a company to give it the chance to resolve the issue.
  • When asked to equate contacting customer service to another experience, consumers’ selected unpleasant situations, like going to the dentist (18%), stubbing your toe (13%) or an awkwardly long hug (13%).

Consumer Trust is Confined to Friends and Family

The study found that it is increasingly difficult for brands to influence purchasing behavior as consumers have very little trust in influencers, celebrities, politicians and tech-related sources such as social media, mobile advertising and voice-activated services.

  • Consumers are twice as likely to trust family members (77%) and friends (75%) than any other source for shopping recommendations. The next most trusted source is colleagues (38%).
  • Politicians (2%), celebrities (7%), a company employee you engage with online (12%) and influencers/bloggers (14%) are among the least trusted sources of shopping recommendations.
  • Consumer trust in technology was also limited. 92% of consumers do not trust recommendations from chat or messaging pop-ups on websites, 89% of consumers do not trust voice-activated services like Alexa or Siri and 81% do not trust ads on mobile devices. The most trusted source of tech-driven recommendations was social media ads, which are trusted by just 23% of consumers.

Consumers Aren’t Getting the Personalization They Expect

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for personalized and novel experiences and more than half of consumers (57%) are comfortable sharing personal information to receive a better experience. But the majority of consumers do not expect brands to deliver.

  • 41% of consumers, and almost half of Millennials (47%), are willing to pay as much as 20% more for an impressive customer experience.
  • 68% of consumers think it is important for a store to tailor its experience based on their tastes and preferences.
  • 42% of people are more likely to buy from a company that offers novel ways to experience its products and services. This is especially true for Gen Z (58%) and Millennials (56%).
  • Consumers from different age groups have very different attitudes toward sharing personal information. 64% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers are comfortable sharing personal information to receive better experiences compared to 50% of Gen X and 35% of Baby Boomers.
  • Despite this clear demand, only 15% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions based on their tastes and preferences.

Consumers Expect Flexibility and Freedom

When asked about their expectations of brands, consumers noted that they expect to have the flexibility and freedom to subscribe to products and services and the ability to return products or services for free that don’t meet expectations.

  • 75% of consumers currently subscribe to products and services and 97% report their number of subscriptions will either increase or stay the same over the next three years. The popularity of subscriptions increases dramatically as consumer age decreases: 80% of Gen Z subscribes to a movie/TV service compared to only 40% of Baby Boomers.
  • Consumers also expect to have the flexibility to return products for free (66%) and get a refund when a product or service does not meet expectations (64%).
  • Only a small percentage of consumers expect a brand to have a social media presence (15%), a stance on social/environmental issues (9%) or political issues (4%).
  • Consumers also want flexibility around when and where they purchase products. Respondents listed surprising places for buying products including standing in line to buy the product in store (17%), while in a meeting at work (9%), while driving (9%), while on a date (6%) or in the shower (4%).

“True customer experience today is not a one-size-fits-all model and as this study shows, brands are increasingly having to operate in a world where customer understanding is at a premium and there is virtually no tolerance for mistakes,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle CX Cloud. “Brands are in a race against time to meet these ever-changing customer expectations and will need to take a data-driven approach to ensure they can make every customer interaction matter.”

Read the full report here.


This study was conducted on behalf of Oracle by the Data + Analytics Unit within H+K Strategies. The survey was fielded February 11-14, 2019 and surveyed 1,143 adults 18+ across the United States, evenly split between Generation Z adult (ages 18-24 years old), Millennial (ages 25-39 years old), Generation X (ages 40-54 years old), and Baby Boomer (ages 55-75 years old) age groups.

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