Human touch: Customers feel buying experience getting worse, as brands lose face-to-face contact
Mytaxi and Luas are the biggest fallers since survey began
Customer experience in Ireland is getting worse, and businesses have been warned to put the human touch back into their sales processes.
The latest CXi Ireland Customer Experience Report saw credit unions claim top position for the fourth year in a row - a boost as the sector moves to break into the mortgage market.
The results of the research, which was carried out by Amarách Research on behalf of The CX Company, are based on a survey of over 2,500 customers, and weigh their experience as customers of a raft of brands.
After three years of continued growth, the latest ranking shows Ireland's overall CX Excellence score dropped.
Travel businesses Mytaxi and Luas are the biggest fallers since survey began four years ago, while the top 10 ranking is dominated by retail brands, including Amazon which claimed second place. Hotel group Radisson Blu moved up 28 places to claim third.
This year, social media giants and Ryanair suffer big falls - reflecting the airline's two-month run of cancelled flights and industrial strife and growing concerns about privacy, and data protection.
At home, the insurance sector was seen to make significant strides in customer engagement - Laya Healthcare is the first insurer to make it into the top 10 and Post Insurance was the highest climber overall.
CX Company chairman Michael Killeen said the remarkable success of the credit unions was down to the fact that they put their members at the centre of everything they do.
"Trust is at the heart of the relationship and they pride themselves on keeping their products simple and always acting in the members best interests. This is evident in the commitment of their employees, over 70pc of whom are volunteers from the local community."
Overall, a decline in customers' perceptions in part reflects higher expectations, he said. "People's expectations are higher now and what was good enough in the past is not now. Digital is playing a bigger role and that brings more choice and cheaper prices. While this is good for consumers, digital also creates a more level playing field by disrupting customer loyalty - more easily done with 'Generation Tinder' - and narrowing gaps between competitors," said Mr Killeen.
He thinks a key reason for this year's decline is the absence of the human touch in the digital era.
"This is where the emotional or human touch can transform the customer experience and brands which have done this successfully - either through the use of data to create a highly personalised experience offering such as Netflix or Amazon, which has set the benchmark for online shopping - score really well.
"Others who have combined the human touch with technology in a seamless manner include Radisson Blu, Ikea, Boots and Laya."