Poor customer experiences are damaging businesses, with 65% of consumers saying they stop dealing with a business after a bad experience and 27% saying they would never return, according to a survey of British consumers, commissioned by RightNow Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive.
In terms of industry sectors, survey respondents indicated that their worst service experiences had been with telecoms providers and the public sector, while their experiences with the retail sector had been the most positive.
Call centre impact
The survey of over 2,300 British consumers found that many also want explicit proof that service has improved after a bad experience. With the survey having been commissioned by RightNow, which deals with contact centres, much attention was paid to the impact of call centres.
The survey noted that poor call centre set-up adds to consumer frustration, with most adult consumers placing "being put on hold for a long time" at the top of their list of frustrations.
In terms of call centre annoyances, consumers' top eight were:
- Being put on hold for a long time;
- Automated voice response that does not include the option I need;
- Inconsistent or inaccurate information;
- Automated menus that seem to travel in circles;
- Representatives that cannot help you;
- Repeating account information to representatives;
- Too many touch tone menu choices to remember;
- Being transferred.
The Customer Experience Survey also found, on a more positive note, that by providing a superior customer experience, organisations can gain a significant business advantage.
Positive customer experiences have a major impact on consumers' brand perceptions and buying behaviour, with 78% of respondents saying that they would be likely to "greatly" or "somewhat" increase their custom on the basis of consistently excellent service. This was further demonstrated as respondents indicated that good customer service is at least as important as good products and prices to engender their loyalty.
Cost of win-back
The study also found that winning back lost custom has the potential to be extremely costly, with more than half of respondents (53%) demanding evidence that the organisation's customer service had improved before they would return as a customer, and 48% saying that the organisation would have to prove that it valued their custom. Only 1% said that a company wouldn't have to do anything at all before they would return as a customer.
According to Wayne Foncette, RightNow's vice president for the UK & Ireland, "We know that consumers vote with their feet and defect if their experience isn't up to scratch. We also know that businesses are being mandated to control or reduce operating costs, so it's a 'catch 22' situation: either spend money to improve the customer experience or cut costs and risk losing customers."