Companies have lost the human touch in customer experience

Two thirds of consumers surveyed by PwC feel companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. Three quarters saying they want more human interaction in future, not less.

The findings come in a new international survey by PwC of 15,000 consumers across 12 countries including the US, UK, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

Experience is Everything finds that in an age of chatbots, digital payments, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, companies need to work harder to strike the right customer experience (CX) balance.

Price and quality remain top of mind when consumers make purchasing decisions, but 73% of global respondents say that a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their brand loyalties. In fact, the price premium for quality CX among consumers worldwide is up to 16 percent on products and services.

“CMOs take note: our research revealed that 65% of U.S. consumers find a positive brand experience to be more influential than great advertising,” said David Clarke, PwC principal and Experience Consulting Leader.

“The ‘Experience Economy’ has ushered in a new customer experience mindset, steering brands beyond emphasizing products and services to selling rich consumer experiences. Our findings quantify the potential return on investment on investments in providing a quality customer experience of, upwards of 16%.”

The detrimental cost of bad customer experience, and quantifiable value of the good

The survey underlines how bad experiences drive consumers away. Of the consumers surveyed, 60% would stop doing business with a company due to unfriendly service, 46% because of employees lack of knowledge (46%) and half because they don’t trust the company. One in three (32%) say they would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Speed and efficiency (80%); knowledgeable and helpful employees (78%); and convenience (77%) universally matter most. These cornerstone elements are so highly valued that the majority (52%) of consumers would pay more for greater speed and efficiency; 43% would pay more for greater convenience; and 41% would pay more for knowledgeable and helpful employees.

Employees critical to the experience – and spending

While the consumer generates the revenue, employees drive the experience. Seventy one percent of consumers think a company’s employees have a significant impact on their experience. But only 44% believe that employees understand their needs well. Consumers in Japan, the U.S. and Singapore are less convinced that their needs are understood (21%, 38% and 38%, respectively).

Clarke continued, “Brands won’t be able to solve their CX problems with technology alone – it’s just an enabler, facilitating the connection between a product or service and consumers. Instead, they must find a way to create an experience that blends consumer demand for tech with their strong desire for authentic, personal interaction. They don’t need to look far, though – employees hold the key to creating and sustaining great interactions with consumers.”

In short, consumers are willing to pay for a customer experience that goes beyond the norm and brings together the best elements of people, technology and service with a smile.

Read the full findings at


PwC surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,000 U.S. respondents, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, via an online survey and in-field interviews in December 2017. 11,000 respondents from 11 additional countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, U.K.) were surveyed in January 2018.