The days when simply maintaining a company's own website was enough to be well positioned in the digital space are over. Because consumers' paths through the digital customer experience no longer run in a linear fashion, but instead lead via an increasing number of third-party platforms such as search engines, map services, rating portals and address directories. Contradictory or incomplete information at the individual touchpoints causes confusion and creates chaos - for example, outdated opening hours or incorrect addresses. This is the result of a representative survey by the digital knowledge management provider Yext, in which 1000 German consumers were questioned. In order to shed light on the topic from the provider's point of view, a separate survey of 200 marketing managers was also conducted. Michael Hartwig, Managing Partner Central Europe at Yext, warns: "Companies must proactively address the change in customer experience and must also no longer ignore technological change in order to be well positioned for the future."
Loss of importance of the corporate website
When it comes to the question of how the customer experience has changed in recent years, there is broad agreement between consumers and marketers. 95 percent of marketers assume that customers today obtain information from more, many more or even many more digital touchpoints than they did five years ago. 90 percent of consumers confirm that this assessment is true in their case. However, they do not place the same degree of trust in all platforms: The majority now trust search engines such as Google (72 percent). The company website (38 percent) is surprisingly far behind and also has only a small lead over rating portals (32 percent). However, one should by no means neglect one's own website, after all Google and other providers also access it. With Schema.org, websites can be optimized so that the essential content is recognized more quickly by search engines.
But even Google doesn't know everything: 54 percent of marketers say they have been confronted with false information about their company on search engines, 39 percent on social media and 37 percent on review portals. Consumers also complain about missing or contradictory information: When asked about the biggest frustration factors in the digital customer experience, 56 percent complain that they often can't find answers to their questions, 51 percent are bothered by a lack of clarity, and the same number are bothered by incomplete information about providers, products and services, which makes it difficult to make a purchase decision. Other pain points such as lengthy registration processes (47 percent), the complicated process of contacting providers (39 percent) or the lack of individual advice (15 percent) come in behind.
Lack of clarity drives customers away
The information chaos spoils the mood of consumers: 70 percent are annoyed when they are confronted with incorrect or contradictory information in the customer experience. 26 percent are frustrated, 19 percent even get angry. This has serious consequences for companies: 39 percent subsequently cancel the purchase process, 33 percent buy from another provider. Particularly noteworthy: Even when consumers encounter false information about a company or its locations on third-party platforms, 59 percent see the blame on the company itself - and not, for example, on the operator of the platform.
The problem for companies, however, is that correcting incorrect entries is often laborious - not least because of the mass of platforms and data sets. 64 percent of marketing managers who have already found incorrect information about their company on the Internet state that incorrect entries are difficult or very difficult to correct. The fundamental problem, however, is that many companies do not adequately manage their digital knowledge. According to the marketing managers surveyed, 19 percent of companies do not systematically manage information such as address data or opening hours of locations at all, 22 percent leave this to the location managers and 18 percent manage it in a simple Excel spreadsheet. Only 42 percent manage their data via a central platform, such as a professional digital knowledge management solution.
Companies must reposition themselves
The status quo already poses numerous challenges for companies. However, the customer experience continues to change as a result of technological progress: when asked which technologies will change shopping the most in the future, consumers attribute the greatest potential to the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and digital voice assistants. However, when it comes to these future technologies, only about half of the marketing managers have confidence in the competencies available in their company. Take voice assistants, for example: 25 percent say they are not well prepared for the increasing spread of technologies such as Alexa and Google Home, and 14 percent feel not at all prepared or even admit that their company is not yet actively dealing with the topic.
"Today, the corporate website is just one platform among many, and new technologies are entering the market that are significantly changing the way people shop. In short, the customer journey is changing," says Michael Hartwig. "The results of our study show where the challenges lie and what the consequences can be if companies remain passive. The management of digital knowledge is becoming an increasingly important discipline - not least because of this, more and more marketing departments are creating the position of Digital Knowledge Manager to take care of just that. But technology is also important: with the right solution, corporate information can be managed centrally, and third-party platforms are automatically updated. This ensures complete and consistent data sets across all channels and helps companies maintain full control over the information available about them."
About the study
These are the results of a representative survey by Yext, in which 1000 Germans aged 18 to 65 and 200 marketing experts aged 18 to 65 were questioned. The survey was conducted online with Lightspeed in August 2018. There were questions with multiple answers.