Coveo’s 2024 CX Industry Report Uncovers that Search Has the Biggest Impact on Customer Experience and Brand Perception

61% of the 4,000 U.S. and U.K. adults surveyed reported that finding both what they sought in just a few clicks and supporting content would have the strongest impact on what they thought of a company

Coveo, the leading enterprise AI platform that brings AI search and generative AI (GenAI) to every point-of-experience, enabling remarkable personalized digital experiences that drive business outcomes, released its fourth annual Coveo CX Industry Report. The report, “Is GenAI the Missing Piece to a Connected Customer Experience?” is based on a survey of 4,000 U.S. and U.K. adults aged 18+ who use a computer in their work for companies with 5,000+ employees. Conducted in partnership with Arlington Research, the research examines the holistic, interconnected digital customer journey asking the question “what will be the role of search in the new ChatGPT era for customer experiences?”.

Findings reveal that search remains the gold standard when people need information with 42% going straight to a company’s website or help center while a lower percentage go straight to Google. While only 5% pointed to GenAI tools like ChatGPT as their first choice for search, more than 72% expect their digital experience to evolve with trends like GenAI.

The future of AI Search and Generative Answering has never played a more important role for companies looking to deliver the best customer experience. 56% of respondents reported that not being able to easily search for and find the information that they’re looking for on their own negatively impacts their perception of a brand and 61% said that finding both what they sought in just a few clicks and supporting content would have the strongest impact on what they thought of a company. These results showcase that organizations interested in GenAI should seek a unified AI search experience that offers smart search, recommendations, and generative answering to deliver the most relevant search results for customers.

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“Search is the throughline for the entire digital experience,” said Patrick Martin, EVP of Global Customer Experience at Coveo. “As the findings show, people see brand sites as more authoritative than Google search, and embedding AI search and generative answering into sites has never been more important. The search bar is transforming into an intent bar or advisory bar providing a window for brands to interact directly with their customers in different ways to deliver better experiences.”

Findings in the latest installment of Coveo’s 2024 Customer Experience Industry Report include: 

  • Customers expect online experiences to be as good as in-person, yet many continue to find digital lacking. For the third consecutive year, 91% of respondents expected their online experience to match or surpass the traditional in-store experience. Unfortunately, 50% said that website navigation was complex and slow, and that search often surfaced irrelevant results.
  • Relevant, tailored results are key to a less frustrating search experience. 35% reported that the biggest issue they encountered when searching online was “too many choices, difficult to filter or irrelevant filtering options.” Despite this being a well-researched area, overwhelming choice continues to be a serious issue.
  • While social intrigues buyers, sites are still critical for conversion. 39% of respondents often or always discover something new when browsing social media, but only 14% of respondents would convert directly through the social media site. Surprisingly, 45% said they navigate to and convert via the brand’s website. Even if they first seek the opinions of their peers or influencers on social platforms, consumers prefer to go directly to the trusted source.
  • Shoppers expect virtual assistants to help guide and troubleshoot. 49% of respondents expect a virtual shopping assistant to help with guidance on product selection or troubleshooting issues.
  • Customers want to leverage GenAI for education before shopping. 37% said that they expect ChatGPT/generative answering to evolve their online shopping experience by helping educate them on products and their attributes before they start shopping for a specific project.
  • Humans preferred, especially for complex issues. When asked whether issue complexity made a difference in preferring self-service or assisted support, more (35%) preferred humans regardless. But 31% chose sides — for easy issues (such as resetting a password) self-service was preferred, and for complex issues (such as an invoicing issue) a live agent was preferred.
  • CSRs needs GenAI to meet customer expectations – especially for older U.S. customers. Even though most customers prefer self-service, almost two-thirds said having access to a customer service representative (CSR) to assist them would improve their self-service experience (64%). When asked how personalized customers felt an interaction with a CSR should be, expectations increase in the U.S. (62% vs 56% U.K.), and with age (56% Gen Z, 57% Millennials, 61% Gen X, 69% Baby Boomers).
  • Customers are willing to provide data, but the results better be relevant. 65% said that they were happy to share data when searching online if it meant they get better deals and offers — and 65% said they were happy to share with brands they trust (+17 points YoY).

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