Does the customer experience landscape look the same in every country? 

New Foundever™ research shows convergence and divergence in equal measure between countries when it comes to the perception of and attitudes toward current levels of customer experience (CX) and their expectations for the future.

Published ·December 12, 2022

Reading time·5 min

Based on a study of over 6,000 consumers across Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and U.S., the latest Foundever™ whitepaper, “CX Landscape 2022: Evolution or Revolution?” finds that all consumers agree on one thing: having helpful and friendly staff is the key to an organization’s ability to deliver a positive CX. And the majority of consumers across all territories surveyed would be prepared to walk away from an existing brand relationship than accept a poor CX. Beyond that, attitudes towards and perceptions of CX differ significantly from country to country.  

Are consumers prepared to pay for a premium CX? 

At a global level, 42% of all consumers surveyed would pay more for a product or service if it came with a superior level of customer experience. But the appreciation for a better quality of service differs between the Americas and Europe. In Brazil, 61% of respondents (and 71% of 25-to-34-year-olds) are willing to pay a premium, as are 47% of all American consumers and three-in-four 25-to-34-year-olds.  

Yet only 33% of German and 34% of French consumers would be prepared to pay more for a better customer experience. There’s a greater willingness among younger consumers (47% of French and 54% of German 25-to-34-year-olds), but the difference isn’t as great as in the U.S. In the U.K. and Spain, attitudes are almost identical, 37% and 38%, respectively. But, as with their other European neighbors, the greatest interest in paying for a better service is among consumers under 35 years old. 

Does the perception of CX vary between countries?  

Willingness to pay more is usually directly linked to the perception of current CX levels. Overall, 67% of consumers agree that, in general, brands have been trying harder to deliver a positive experience. And, with 73% of respondents in agreement, France is second only to Brazil (80%) in feeling positive about recent brand experiences. Just over two-thirds (69%) of U.S. and 65% of Spanish consumers believe that CX has been improving, and over half of U.K. and German consumers agree.  

But when asked to think specifically about experiences over the past 12 months, sentiments change. Only in Brazil (77%) and Spain (53%) do the majority of consumers believe that the standard of CX has improved this year. In the U.K., 41% agree that things are improving, but 42% feel that they haven’t. However, 38% of German respondents feel the levels of CX are better this year than in 2021.  

Current perceptions of the quality of CX will influence consumers’ willingness to pay for a better level of service in the future. In several countries, there’s already a sense that organizations are operating in a CX deficit.  

How willing are consumers to switch brands because of CX?  

Overall, 78% of all consumers surveyed agree that it would only take a single poor customer experience for them to part ways with a brand. And the sentiment is strongest in Brazil — the country that’s most satisfied with the current levels of service — where 86% of respondents would end their relationship after a negative experience. At 84%, Spain is in a close second place, followed by the U.K. with 80%. American consumers are the most forgiving — just 71% of consumers would abandon a brand relationship after a single bad experience, compared with 72% of French and 77% of German consumers.  

One would expect a higher percentage of German consumers to be ready to walk away after a poor experience, considering that perceptions in the county regarding the state of CX are the lowest of all territories surveyed. Yet, this is not the case. Nor have a large percentage of German consumers switched brands due to poor CX in the last 12 months. Just one-third of German consumers have ended a customer relationship in 2022, compared with 58% of Brazilian and 52% of Spanish consumers; 45% of all people surveyed have switched brands due to poor CX this year.  

What’s causing customers to leave?  

As for what motivates consumers to sever ties, when asked to rank a list of factors, the top three reasons at the global level are the perception that the product or service represents poor value for money, unhelpful and unfriendly staff, and slow service and slow response to questions.  

However, on a country-by-country level, priorities change. In the U.S. and Brazil, unhelpful staff is the biggest single reason for leaving a brand. For Americans, the next biggest motivator is the perception of value for money. Speed of the service rounds out the top three.  

In Brazil, value for money doesn’t make it into the top five reasons. After staff unfriendliness, a poor website experience is the next biggest reason for ending a relationship, followed by slow service and a lack of offers and promotions.  

Across the European countries surveyed, all agree that the perception of value for money is the single most important factor, followed by helpful staff as the second most important factor. What’s more, France is the only country in the study not to rank the speed of service in its top three reasons for leaving, instead selecting the quality of the website experience.  

Consumers agree on the definition of positive CX 

Yet all countries realign on the factors that come together to create a positive customer experience. At a global level, helpful and friendly staff makes the most significant positive difference (71%), followed very closely by a fast response to questions (70%) and the ability of agents handling voice calls to answer questions quickly and correctly (58%).  

At a country level, all consumers agree that CX is only as good as the staff delivering it. Likewise, in all countries other than Brazil (where an easy-to-use website is the second most important element of CX and speed of service is third), fast response to questions and the telephone staff’s ability to answer questions round out the top three. 

Is personalization the future of CX?  

While there’s broad convergence regarding the definition of a positive CX, countries begin to diverge again on the topic of personalization. Sixty percent of all consumers surveyed believe it’s important that brand engagements and communications have some personalization. The expectation for some form of personalization is greatest in Brazil (80%) and Spain (74%). At the opposite end of the scale, just 44% of German and 48% of French consumers expect a personalized CX. In the U.S. and U.K., over half of consumers (61% and 53%, respectively) would like recognition from the brands with which they engage. Still, across all countries, over half of all respondents aged between 18 and 44 want and expect personalization.