Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Best Buy Lead in Holiday Customer Service According to ClickFox Research

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2013 Holiday Customer Experience Survey Shows Consumers Will Demonstrate False Loyalty and Report Negative Service Experience


Many retailers have a siloed view in their engagement with their customers. It is important to realize that consumers are more likely than ever to leave a trail of negative engagements in multiple channels before calling the contact center.

ClickFox, the pioneering leader in experience analytics, today announced the results of a consumer survey evaluating the customer service experience during the busy holiday buying season. With less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to purchase gifts, consumers indicated that they expect retailers to provide poor customer service and are willing to sacrifice great customer experience in order to buy the gifts they need on time. Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Best Buy were revealed as the top retailers offering the best customer service during the holiday season despite Black Friday lines and online competition. Additional shifting consumer behaviors point to increased churn on customer service infrastructure to report negative customer experiences and new influences leading customer purchasing decisions.

“Consumers continue to prefer online retailers over going to the store. It’s convenient. They can easily see if the product is in stock and compare prices,” notes Marco Pacelli, ClickFox CEO. “Negative in store experiences also encourages new brand journeys where consumers purchase product and resolve service issues in new or untraditional channels.

The survey findings point to two key warnings for retailers. First and foremost, consumers will demonstrate a false loyalty to their usual brands during the holiday season as price becomes the most important factor in consumer engagement while they are likely to demonstrate true loyalty throughout the rest of the calendar year. Secondly, if negative service experiences are not resolved at the first point-of-contact, consumers get the attention of service representatives in different ways, including self-service via email, leaving negative reviews on social sites, and calling customer service as a last resort.

“Many retailers have a siloed view in their engagement with their customers,” says Pacelli. “It is important to realize that consumers are more likely than ever to leave a trail of negative engagements in multiple channels before calling the contact center.”

Online Customer Experience Continues to Resonate with Customers, Year Over Year
ClickFox research pointed to a continued adoption of e-commerce by consumers as the preferred storefront of choice with 55 percent of respondents indicating that they plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping online. While mobile commerce continues to be a major news driver in retail communities, only 2 percent of respondents intend to purchase the bulk of their gifts using mobile engagement hinting that the platform is currently being used as an engagement and evaluation tool by consumers rather than a hard sales channel.

Brick and Mortar Retail Drives Negative Service Experience
Unsurprisingly, consumers clearly indicated that negative customer experiences are driven by representatives across the sales floor, contact center and returns process, which may be attributed to untrained temporary workers hired to meet holiday demand. Customer service hotlines and sales floor representatives are the worst offenders with 31 percent and 29 percent respectively of consumers identifying them as the worst service touch points during the holiday season. Negative contact center experiences can be mitigated with more accurate consumer data and better proactive communication on order status while consistently negative experiences with sales floor representatives point to a lack of training. The returns process came in at a close third place in providing negative experience of 23 percent of consumers polled.

Consumers are most likely to respond to negative service experiences in-store by contacting store management to resolve issues according to 32 percent of respondents, placing a strong burden on retail storefronts to solve service inquiries in person or else risk escalation on contact centers and additional service channels. If consumers are unable to resolve their inquiries at the retail storefront, 20 percent of respondents polled will send an email to customer service hotline and over 16 percent will write a negative review on product review websites or on other social media. Only 8 percent of consumers audited noted that they would most likely report a negative service experience via customer service hotlines, indicating dwindling consumer belief in the channel to resolve their problems.

Service Abandonment and Shifting Influences
Consumers clearly indicated that they believe retailers emphasize having the best deals and prices the most during the holiday season for over 78 percent of respondents, and that giving the best customer service during the holiday season is the lowest priority, according to 51 percent of respondents. Consumers initially seemed to mirror retailers in their prioritization with 55 percent of consumers polled identifying having the best deals and prices as the most important factor when buying gifts and 61 percent of consumers noting that they care about rewards programs the least. Consumers also indicated a willingness to hunt for products from multiple retailers with 30 percent of respondents identifying the ability to purchase multiple gifts from the same store as the least important factor in selecting a retailer during the holiday season.

Despite continued investment in marketing campaigns to shift brand loyalty and consumer behavior, ultimately peer influences from friends and family members were noted as the most influential in directing holiday shopping for consumers followed by online holiday advertising, online product reviews, holiday advertising on television and sales floor representatives. These insights clearly indicate the destination shopping mindset of consumers as they are influenced by their closest advisors and are not by sales representatives who could drive additional spending once in store.

Aside from traditional influences on holiday spending, ClickFox research also audited which specific social channels provided the maximum impact on consumers. Contrary to what one might assume, social media does not directly influence purchasing as indicated by 70 percent of respondents. Facebook was the most influential with over 18 percent indicating that content they saw on Facebook influenced their purchase. Pinterest and Google + were tied for second most influential each with 4 percent of the vote. Twitter and Instagram registered as the least influential with 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

The ClickFox 2013 Holiday Customer Experience survey was conducted to explore changing consumer views on the holiday buying experience. The survey provides timely and relevant information reflecting 535 consumers and their opinions from across the United States. Of the respondents, 303 disclosed full demographic information including gender, age range, income and geographic region. Of the respondents, 47 percent were men and 53 percent women. The ages ranged from 19 percent 18-29 year olds, 27 percent 30-44 year olds, 34 percent 45-60 year olds and 20 percent 60 year olds and older. In terms of household income, 23 percent made less than $24,999, 17 percent $25-49,999, 26 percent $50-99,999, 18 percent $100-149,999, and 16 percent earned over $150K. Over 89 percent of respondents had some college or higher degree.

About ClickFox
ClickFox is the market leader of a new breed of experience analytics software and solutions, connecting billions of interactions across every channel into comprehensive journeys. Beyond a limited single-channel view, ClickFox patented journey analysis engine provides a visually intuitive mapping of all customer interactions from IVR, retail, Web, and email to agent CRM desktops, mobile devices and interactive kiosks. The CEA Platform facilitates discovery and reveals bottom-line customer insights. Deployed by Fortune 500 companies, ClickFox has a proven track record of helping world-class service providers dramatically boost operational efficiency and profitability. Today, the CEA platform holds journey experiences for hundreds of millions of consumers. Visit for further information.

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