What Leads to Bad Customer Experience?

Sam Osbourne July 27, 2022

Since the dawn of the internet, the stakes are higher for retailers everywhere. One unhappy consumer can cause a lot of damage by posting about their bad customer experience (CX) online to hundreds of followers.

What are the top five causes of negative customer experiences?

We spoke to 2,000 consumers about the top causes of complaints in retail. Here’s what they said were the five leading factors of their negative customer experiences:

  • Long waiting times
  • Unhelpful staff
  • Unavailable stock
  • Lack of available staff
  • Unable to find a product due to store design

1. Long waiting times (51%)

That’s right, queues are the biggest cause of poor customer experiences across retail.

Unfortunately, retailers don’t just make frustrated customers when they make them wait. They also lose sales–1 in 5 customers will walk out of a store after just three minutes in a wait line.

To add insult to injury, it’s typically customers who spontaneously enter a store to make a purchase that aren’t willing to wait for service. By contrast, customers who come to your stores with a problem will wait much longer to be served.

2.Unhelpful staff (44.7%)

The numbers are in. If your staff aren’t delivering good customer service, they’re working against you.

As clienteling becomes a key driver of customer loyalty, store associates that aren’t up to par could cost you short-term and long-term sales for every customer they deter. Given that unhelpful staff rank as the second largest cause of poor retail experiences, retailers need to do everything in their power to equip their staff with the tools to deliver exceptional customer service.

3.Unavailable stock (43.1%)

For anyone who’s ever tried to buy a gift at the least minute, there can be nothing worse than finding out said gift is out of stock. As such, it’s easy to see why 43.1% of customers blame unavailable stock for a poor store experience.

4.Lack of available staff (38.9%)

Having a staff member close by can make all the difference for customers, particularly in stores where they need more advice before making a large purchase (i.e., an electronic or jewelry store).

Ultimately, if they can’t find what they’re looking for, many consumers won’t bother to find a staff member–they’ll just walk straight out.

5.Poor store design (14.6%)

It’s true that a poor store design is three times less detrimental than a long queue to the customer experience. However, there’s a reason it’s still the fifth biggest cause of a negative customer experience.

When your stores are hard to navigate around, customers can easily get lost–especially if you’re a big box retailer. The greater the need for a product, the more frustrating the customer will find wandering around your store to find it.

How does bad customer experience affect your business?

By our count, there are 4 detrimental effects of poor customer experience:

  • Walkouts: Unhappy customers are far more likely to leave your stores without making a purchase.
  • Lost loyalty: If a customer doesn’t enjoy their visit, they’re unlikely to return.
  • Poor social media presence: Customers are increasingly turning to social media channels to share their unpleasant experiences in retail. This can seriously affect your brand image.
  • Negative word-of-mouth: Here’s two customer experience statistics for you. Customers share a positive in-store experience with around six people. Meanwhile, they’ll share a negative customer experience with 15 or more people.

How to turn around a bad customer experience

Fortunately, when it comes to preventing bad customer service, there’s several things you can do.

  • Invest in CX software: With software solutions like appointment scheduling and virtual queue management, you can make physical queues a thing of the past.
  • Use clienteling techniques: Likewise, using clienteling technologies, you can help your store teams to establish long-lasting personalized relationships with their customers to improve their experience.
  • Give proper training: Just as you wouldn’t roll out a new product until you’d ironed out all the quirks, make sure your associates are fully trained before putting them on the shop floor.
  • Hire the right people: Unfortunately, some people have bad customer service skills and no amount of training will help them. Make sure you’re thoroughly vetting every candidate before offering them a job to ensure your associates always deliver exceptional service.

5 best negative customer experience quotes

“Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”– Clare Muscutt

“Customer experience is one of the two core pillars of customer retention; the thing is, you can’t grow if your customers don’t stick around.”–  Jes Kirkwood

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs

“Unhappy customers cost more to serve because they require more time and resources to build goodwill. Instead of spending money to recover from a bad experience, proactively spending money to create positive experiences pays off incredibly.” – Blake Morgan

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”– Bill Gates

Learn more about improving the customer experience

Looking to create an omnichannel customer experience? Verint’s award-winning all-in-one Retail Choreography suite can help. We help global clients to drive traffic, increase customer loyalty and achieve lasting brand relevance.

We help global clients to drive traffic, increase customer loyalty and achieve lasting brand relevance.