Naughty or Nice? Taste Analytics New Research Shows Customer Service has a Big Impact on Holiday Spirit for Most Consumers

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Majority of American shoppers will be giving more than receiving, but feel unresolved issues around problematic gifts will dampen the holiday mood and brand loyalty

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“Turning extra attention to social media channels over the holidays is not going to be effective for most brands as many are looking for direct human interaction to address their issues."

The good news for retailers this holiday season is the majority of Americans are planning on giving gifts rather than receiving, but they should also note consumers are sending a clear message that customer service plays a strong part in their overall holiday spirit when it comes to addressing and fixing customer issues with problematic gifts, according to a survey conducted by Taste Analytics, an analytics platform used by businesses to provide valuable insights from all sorts of textual data. And when it comes to contacting customer service, most will still rely on traditional channels like calling customer service or visiting a retail location in person.

During the upcoming holiday season, 79% of all U.S. consumers noted they are planning on giving gifts, while 49% expect to receive gifts. The survey also indicates 74% of Americans would feel their holiday season would be made worse if they gave someone a gift that was defective and customer service wasn’t able to solve the problem in time for the gift recipient to enjoy it. On the other hand, if the company is able to correct the problem, 75% would feel their holiday season was made better, with a resounding 50% saying they would feel it was made much better. The online survey was conducted by market research firm YouGov in November 2015 polling 1,134 consumers in the United States.

Even in this digital era, consumers will be turning to more traditional channels to resolve their complaints if they happen to have customer service issues. The majority (68%) would still try calling the customer service phone number to address an issue with a gift they received during the holidays. After that, 58% noted they would visit a retail or customer service location in person, email customer service (49%) or use an online chat tool on the company’s website (41%). Only 10% noted they would turn to a brand’s social media channel to publicly contact them and another 10% would contact them privately on social channels.

“Turning extra attention to social media channels over the holidays is surprisingly not going to be effective for most brands looking to provide additional support during the biggest retail season of the year as many are looking for direct human interaction to address their issues,” said Derek Wang, CEO of Taste Analytics, which provides a simple to use data analytics platform for customer care and marketing teams to use to uncover insights to help improve the customer experience. “Plus with many turning to a wide variety of channels to seek help, there is an added challenge for brands to quickly identify underlying issues and themes that may be impacting consumers regionally or nationally.”

On top of this, most American consumers are not shy about leveraging multiple channels with 64% noting they would use more than one channel to contact customer service if they received a problematic gift over the holidays. They have no patience when it comes to getting their complaint resolved over the holidays. When asked how long they would wait after an unsuccessful attempt to contact customer service before trying again or trying a new method, over a third (36%) would immediately try again or turn to another channel, and 12% will wait up to an hour, with 73% trying again or turning to another channel within 24 hours.

How does good customer service impact brand loyalty? Although 42% feel indifferent either way, 38% would feel more positive about a brand if they had customer service available during holidays. The data also shows that if a brand was able to fix their problem with a gift they received over the holidays, 69% are likely to be repeat customers and purchase from the brand for themselves, but most (61%) are likely not to be repeat customers if customer service was unable to correct the issue. While not being able to fix an issue doesn’t bode well for brand loyalty, 74% noted they would unlikely be a repeat customer if they are ignored or if their queries go unanswered.

“All these channels mean there is data across a wide range of platforms and systems and in many different formats. These silos make it harder for the brand to quickly identify and effectively address problematic areas, particularly over the holidays,” added Wang. “We have been working with many consumer brands to address this exact issue. We provide them a way to leverage advanced data analytics to actively monitor and analyze these disparate data sets in real time in order to uncover actionable insights in minutes and hours, rather than weeks or months. This is important, especially over the critical holiday shopping season.”

Some other interesting facts uncovered by this survey include:

  •     The idea of giving problematic gifts is not the only reason to feel blue; 68% of Americans would feel that their holiday season was worse if they received a defective gift that customer service couldn’t help them with, but a greater number (75%) would feel their holiday season was better if customer service was able to help them fix the issue.
  •     Despite the moniker of “digital native,” if they received a problematic gift this holiday season, the majority of Millennials would call customer service on the phone (62%), or visit the retail location (55%) to address their issues. Interestingly, only 16% indicated they would reach out to a brand’s social channels either publicly or privately.
  •     Women are more apt to give gifts this holiday season (83%) than men (75%). From a generational perspective, Baby Boomers are more likely to give (82%) gifts this holiday season than receive (47%). While only 75% of Millennials are planning on giving, 56% do expect to receive gifts.
  •     Baby Boomers would be most likely to hold grudges against brands that don’t answer their attempts at contact after receiving a defective gift, with 85% saying they’d be unlikely to purchase something for themselves from a brand if that happened. Generation Xers and Millennials are slightly less unforgiving, but still unlikely to buy for themselves in the future at 69% and 65%, respectively.

Recently coming out of stealth mode, Taste Analytics incorporates predictive modeling, machine learning, and robust statistical Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to help business teams, from large and small brands, to quickly visualize key patterns and behaviors, so they can better anticipate and refine strategies and best practices in real-time. For more information on this research and to learn more about Taste Analytics, visit:

About Taste Analytics
Taste Analytics changes the way people gain valuable and actionable insights from textual data. Incorporating predictive modeling, machine learning, and robust statistical NLP algorithms, Taste Analytics helps to create visualizations of behavior communities, trends, patterns, and outlying themes. We are a team of computer scientists and engineers with one simple goal in mind - to help companies make fact-based decisions from their unstructured data sources. Founded in 2012, Taste Analytics is headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Visit us at or follow us on Twitter @TasteAnalytics.

Note to Editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,134 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between November 9-10, 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

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Nahren Khizeran
onechocolate communications for Taste Analytics
+1 (415) 989-9803
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