In the digital era, consumers grappling with lack of human connect, says study 

After a countrywide study covering 2,500 consumers between October and December 2022, Terragni has launched the EAS (Effort Assessment Score) Report 2023.

In the digital era, consumers grappling with lack of human connect, says study 
The Indian customers are becoming increasingly intolerant of effort and with ever-increasing options available

Companies in India have digitised nearly all customer journeys, but this reduction of physical effort has hit the point of diminishing returns. Customer support has becoming difficult for customers in banking, insurance and e-commerce, leading to stress. Lack of support, multiple follow-ups on the status, and the need for multiple iterations are putting them off, according to a recent survey by Terragni Consulting, a human engagement consulting company.

After a countrywide study covering 2,500 consumers between October and December 2022, Terragni has launched the EAS (Effort Assessment Score) Report 2023. The EAS Index looked at how customers perceive the four largest consumer sectors of the Indian market – retail, e-commerce, insurance and banking.

The insurance and e-commerce industry scored poorly with a greater degree of difficulty, while retail and banking, too, were ranked as difficult, the study said.

The Indian customers are becoming increasingly intolerant of effort and with ever-increasing options available, customers will quietly churn away from a brand they perceive to be ‘effortful’, it said. The consumer no longer just wants digital and wants more human interactions, the study added.

“Lack of empathy is a huge problem across all Indian brands. This is coming out strongly in our study,” Anil V Pillai, director, Terragni, said. After the pandemic, customers have significantly lower temporal tolerance and even small delays impact how customers perceive the brand, he added.

Customers experience higher stress in their digital journey with buying experience especially post-purchase leading to frustration and customer exits.

The ease of doing business in India is not just about starting a business or running a business but also about how easy it is for the consumer to do business with the company without friction, Pillai pointed out. Customers are paying a lot of money and are looking for a pain-free experience, he added.

Simplicity should be the key 2023-24 mantra for these companies, Pillai said.

Companies would have to eliminate cognitive stress by incorporating high visibility of outcomes for the customers. They would have to design for failure and accept the journeys will fail so a well-designed service recovery that focuses on assurance and stress transference was a key opportunity for driving ease and differentiation.

According to the study, it was in the insurance industry that the time taken to complete transactions and get the desired outcomes was the most significant source of friction with the number of follow-ups increasing compared with the pre-pandemic level. In a digital world, multiple attempts and follow-ups contribute to temporal friction and cognitive stress, leading to customers believing that the experience was more stressful and time-consuming, the study said.

The EAS study noted that when it comes to banking, over 50% of customers require multiple attempts for most activities. So, despite making things easier, customers still perceive banking to be a high-effort experience. Digital banking did not lower efforts, and irrespective of the mode, nearly 50% of the time customers need multiple iterations to get to the right information. This was also because customers had lower temporal tolerance with digital touchpoints.

In e-commerce, choice overload in the process of choosing the right product was driving the most cognitive stress which explained the abandoned e-carts. Nearly 60% of e-commerce customers said they needed multiple attempts to get support. E-commerce companies accounted for 48% of consumer grievances and complaints registered with the National Consumer Helpline in 2022.

The study noted that customer experience will be the next differentiator and customers will be loyal to those companies that respect them.

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First published on: 07-02-2023 at 00:05 IST
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