Which Industry Causes the Most Frustrating Digital Experiences? 2021 Benchmarks

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
October 29, 2020

Frustration-free digital experiences have quickly becoming the hallmark of successful enterprise websites and apps – especially in the wake of a tumultuous year that drove web traffic up 20% in the U.S. alone.

Whether you’re a major financial service institution, a global restaurant chain, or an iconic online fashion retailer, if you fail to curb online frustration then engagements, conversions, loyalty, and revenue will surely fall by the wayside. In fact, 70% of customers abandon purchases because of bad user experience, and 67% churn because of them.

The success of digital teams looking to mitigate poor experiences hinges on establishing context and standards around frustration in your industry. For a targeted approach to optimizing poor experiences, start by addressing these key factors:

  • What does frustration across your industry look like?
  • Where does this frustration typically take place in your industry?
  • How can you eliminate or reduce frustration effectively?

To clear the air surrounding these unknowns and give you the best chance of delivering industry-leading friction-free experiences on your website or app, we benchmarked user frustration across nearly every major industry.


How we measured user frustration benchmarks across 4.1 billion user sessions

To establish clear-cut online frustration standards, we launched a data-driven study: Digital Experience & Conversion: Industry Benchmarks for 2021. In this study, our data scientists crunched a sample size of 4.1 billion user sessions across 11 different industries over 2020 – and weighted user frustration heavily.

When it comes to pinpointing poor experiences across your website or app, behaviors of confusion and frustration often tell you even more about the user experience than many web analytics metrics or customer experience (CX) scores. While traditional data provides highlights UX issues, user behavior data uncovers the source of those frustrating experiences.

Whether it’s rage-driven bird’s nests showing erratic mouse movement, rapid multi-clicks on unresponsive page elements, or one of the many others, behaviors of frustration shed light on the most disruptive experiences impacting your website or app.

Leveraging Decibel’s Digital Experience Score (DXS®) – which automatically measures billions of user sessions and detects trillions of user behaviors – our data science team used frustrated page views (%) as the ultimate measuring stick for gauging poor experiences. The results? The 11 industry average hits 6.7% frustrated page views.

Check out industry-specific averages below to see how your industry fares against the rest and take away insights you can use to reduce frustration on your own website or app.


Ranking the user frustration levels between 11 industries heading into 2021

Given that 70% of enterprise CEOs see UX & CX as a competitive differentiator, delivering seamless experiences with minimal frustration can become the ultimate advantage. Leverage the data below to jumpstart your efforts to deliver best-in-class digital experiences that separates you from the pack.

1. Energy – 4.8%

Leading the way, the energy industry breaks the sub-5% mark with just 4.8% of pages featuring user frustration – an impressive feat. Offering energy services in a friction-free environment surely adds to customer lifetime value while reducing frustration-based churn. However, to cut out as much friction as possible, energy companies should focus on simplifying navigation and improving site speeds. Find full industry results here.

2. Retail – 5.0%

Falling just short of 1st place, the retail industry doesn’t disappoint users too often in the grand scheme of online frustration. With ecommerce on the rise – especially after this year – online retailers face both a promising future but one filled with high online shopper experience expectations. To keep frustrations low, the retail industry must put a premium focus on flawlessly fast and intuitive checkout journeys. Find full industry results here.

3. Automotive – 6.1%

Filling the top of the podium, the automotive industry delivers relatively low frustration yet sits a full percentage point behind the top two leaders. With online car showrooms becoming must-have automotive digital experiences, motor companies cannot afford to rollout half-baked, frustration-filled shopping journeys. Car companies must keep page layouts clean, navigation intuitive, and loading speeds high. Find full industry results here.

4. Telecomms – 6.2%

A hair behind the top three, the telecomms industry keeps frustration relatively in-check, but there’s still room for improvement. With a wide user base – from corporations, to small businesses, to families and individuals – there’s plenty of room for user journeys to go awry. To keep frustrations in check, telecomms companies must work to streamline and fine-tune all site journeys – especially on mobile. Find full industry results here.

5. Media & Publishing – 6.3%

In an age where content now lives in a digital-first world, the media and publishing industry delivers quality but still imperfect digital experiences. With content – from multimedia galleries to articles – flooding every corner online, users will abandon at the first sign of a poor experience to find another source. Media & publishing outlets should direct resources towards perfecting responsive page layouts while catering to mobile users. Find full industry results here.

6. Financial Services – 6.4%

In the middle of the pack, the financial services industry performs better than the multi-industry average, but still leaves too many users feeling frustrated. With online banking and insurance becoming the status quo, FinServ platforms that erase online hurdles and hassles will spark long-term user loyalty. Digital financial services should streamline multi-step journeys and simplify online forms for minimal frustration. Find full industry results here.

7. Tech – 6.5%

Just barely outperforming the multi-industry average, the tech industry may leap these rankings if it reworks its most frustrating aspects of the digital experience. With a wide range of services – from consumer electronics to business IT solutions – tech companies must rethink product page layouts, menu navigation, and end-to-end user journeys, while delivering on high-speed site performance. Find full industry results here.

8. Healthcare – 6.7%

Matching the multi-industry average, the healthcare industry could certainly be worse off but has plenty of room to cut down on user frustrations. With users often looking to self-educate or make appointments, healthcare sites should ensure those engagements are completely frictionless. Healthcare organizations must ensure page elements are highly responsive and layouts are intuitive. Find full industry results here.

9. Restaurants – 7.0%

Sitting below the average frustration benchmark, the restaurant industry – from global chains to food delivery services – stands to benefit from ensuring online ordering becomes truly seamless. With hungry users prone to impatience, erasing online ordering friction helps restaurants standout and yield lasting loyalty. It’s time to direct optimizations towards simpler menus, streamlined user journeys, and easier mobile ordering. Find full industry results here.

10. Non-profit – 8.2%

Often operating with access to fewer resources compared to enterprise businesses, it may not be entirely surprising to see the non-profit industry leaving online donors more frustrated. To convert more online donations, non-profits will have to cleverly prioritize optimizations on key weak points like revamping user journey navigation and website performance – especially for mobile users. Find full industry results here.

11. Travel – 8.7%

Rounding out these standings, the travel industry leaves much to be desired when it comes to delivering frictionless online trip planning and booking. For this industry to bounce back – from booking sites to hotels and airlines – it will take a digital experience overhaul to regain traction heading into 2021. Travel industry priorities start with simplified navigation, redesigned page layouts, and a bump to site speed – major differentiators moving forward. Find full industry results here.

Use the latest industry insights to deliver near-perfect website & app optimizations

Whether you’re amongst low-frustration leaders or industry laggards, these rankings shed light on true user frustration benchmarks between and within major industries.

From here, the key is not to relish or sulk in these results, but to seek out and investigate frustration hotspots to deliver seamless optimizations on your website or app. Those who don’t could find themselves slipping down the ranks to competitors.

But to truly deliver frictionless, frustration-free digital experiences – no matter the industry – you need access to the right data. In fact, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable.

To ensure you and your team are rolling out UX improvements and fixes that will actually reduce frustration and move the needle on engagement, conversion, and loyalty, you need insights you can act on.

To get just that, download the full benchmarking report – Digital Experience & Conversion: Industry Benchmarks for 2021 – to take your website or app to the top of your industry.

Topics: Behavior, Digital Body Language, Digital Experience, User experience
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