Enough is enough: A third of customers would ditch companies after just one poor experience, research shows


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Enough is enough: A third of customers would ditch companies after just one poor experience, research shows.

A third of UK customers would ditch companies after just one poor experience, according to research conducted by analytics company, SAS.

Meanwhile, 90 per cent of customers would abandon companies after just two-to-five poor examples of customer service, before moving to competing brands. The research shows that, despite disruption caused by COVID-19, customers’ patience with companies offering a poor customer experience is running thin.

Businesses looking to avoid this pitfall can no longer rely solely on price, according to respondents. The research found that, when deciding who they will spend their money with, customers are placing increasing importance on the experience and service provided by brands.

Almost three-fifths (59 per cent) of respondents said they would pay more to buy and/or use products and services from businesses that provided them with a good customer experience during COVID-19. 

This coincides with a drop in the importance of price. Before the pandemic three-fifths (61 per cent) of customers put it in their top three factors for a good customer experience. Now, it is in just over half (54 per cent) of customers’ top three – a decrease of seven per cent in a short period of time.

The challenge intensifies further for businesses as the research found that what customers consider to be a ‘good’ customer experience can encompass everything and anything from price to convenience. 

When respondents were asked to rank their top three customer experience concerns, the responses were quite evenly spread and led to the following findings:

  • A quarter (25 per cent) valued flexible returns and refunds as a key concern;
  • Close to a third (32 per cent) cared about responsive customer support;
  • Almost half (46 per cent) labelled customer experience more important than low prices and discounts;
  • Nearly a third (29 per cent) felt it was essential for companies to behave responsibly;
  • Meanwhile, nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) placed great value in convenience

Findings from last year’s Experience 2030 report showed that companies were out of sync with customer demands. For example, more than half of companies selected high quality products/services as the most important factor (58 per cent), which was true for just a third (35 per cent) of customers. 

Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland, said: “With customer needs differing so wildly from one customer to the next, combined with their lack of patience for companies offering poor experiences and customer service, this tells businesses one thing: they must start recognising customers as individuals and tailor the experiences they deliver accordingly.”

The research also found that there have been signs of improvement over the last few months, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19. On average, a quarter (25%) of customers noted an improvement in the customer experience during lockdown. Further, the good news for businesses is that one in 10 (11 per cent) customers started using a digital service/app for the first time since lockdown, with almost three-fifths (58 per cent) planning to continue using it after lockdown. This represents a significant new pool of digital customers for businesses to interact with, but it’s important they have the capability to analyse this new online data to drive superior marketing analytics and customer experience.

However, despite these improvements and new opportunities, customers still think there is much more that businesses can do. An average of 11 per cent of customers still felt that the customer experience had diminished over lockdown. This still leaves the majority of customers undecided on their feelings towards the customer experience: an opportunity for businesses to better understand their behaviours and preferences by using analytics, providing them with a competitive advantage.


Research was conducted and statistics compiled for SAS by 3Gem. Consumers completed an online questionnaire in August 2020 across a number of markets (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) adding up to a global sample of 10,000 adults over the age of 18.

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