In the recession days of the 1980′s, customers were more concerned about price reductions and convenience rather than the quality of customer service. Now 91% of customers polled in general surveys think that customer service and the quality of that service is important.
People are more tolerant of poor customer relations in service oriented business than what they would tolerate in retail. Cable companies, cellphone companies, banks and credit cards which garner the most articles on Google about poor and frustrating customer experiences, are harder to switch services and often very time-consuming. Sometimes there are no viable alternatives in some areas to change service providers, so we moan and groan and still have to press numbers told to us by a computer to even get to customer service. In retail, out of 1000 consumers polled in a recent American Express survey, one-half of the customers will stop doing business with a store after two bad experiences while one-quarter of those surveyed would change stores after one bad experience.
Many customers think that companies have not done enough to improve their service in this economy. Consumers are more influenced by negative online product reviews than positive ones. A customer is likely to tell seven to ten more people about a small disappointment. On the other hand, people will spend more money at a company that offers great customer service; up to an average of 9% more according to the same American Express survey.
It's all about giving customers what they want instead of companies thinking what a customer wants. There are just so many choices in retail, consumers don't have to put up with bad behavior.
So how do customers want to resolve their conflicts the most? A grand majority of consumers rate talking with a "real person" the ultimate service when calling a company. After that comes e-mail correspondence because it is convenient and still personal. Customers feel they have gained something from both "real people" communication and e-mails if they get an apology, a discount, reward points or something for free. Not surprisingly no one has been content with dealing with computers and pressing numbers and following computer directions as a customer service tool. Still how many companies have that procedure in operation??