Consumers demand greater value and service
Instead of demanding lower prices, the recession has encouraged consumers to instead demand greater value for money in the retail market, according to the '2010 Consumer Scorecard Research' study by Convergys.
When surveyed, recession-weary consumers in the US said that they want the companies with which they do business to value them, value their time, value their money, and value their preferences.
"Today's consumer expectations are clear. They expect good value for their money and timely acknowledgement and resolution of their issues by knowledgeable employees," said Jim Boyce, president of global sales and services for Convergys. "Consumers will simply take their business elsewhere when their needs are not met. At the same time, the companies that have the customer service mechanisms in place to give their customers what they want are the companies that will retain and even grow market share."
The company's research was conducted to help companies identify ways in which they can differentiate themselves through customer service experiences, and demonstrated that the recession increased consumer demand for excellence in terms of customer service.
In fact, 46% of consumers reported that they were worse off than they were one year before, and the key word for today's consumer is "value". Key attributes required by consumers included:
- Value my time Consumers continue to expect superior customer service experiences, with 33% of respondents choosing "addresses my needs on first contact" as the top customer service attribute, up slightly from the 2008 pre-recession research. Since they are key to first-contact resolution, "knowledgeable employees" also ranked highly, chosen by 25% of consumers as the third most important customer service attribute, up from 22% in 2008.
- Value my money Recession-weary consumers are not just looking for the lowest cost but the best value in their customer transactions. 31% of survey respondents chose "good value for the money" as the second most important customer service attribute, up significantly from 2008. 33% of respondents rated reliable service as more important than price in their definition of what constitutes "good value for money". Only 5% of customers defined good value as "paying the lowest price."
- Value me "Treats me like a valued customer" was the fourth most important attribute, cited by 22% of survey respondents, up from 13% in 2008 and the fastest growing attribute of choice for consumers who want positive acknowledgment from the companies that win their business.
- Value my preferences Survey respondents' contact channel preferences point to an increasing need for multiple customer care solutions that combine agent-assisted service with automation and self-service options. While consumers still prefer to speak with a customer service agent, customer service via self- service, live web chat, automated phone systems, and e-mail with response is also gaining traction.
Despite consumers' clear preferences for value and efficient issue resolution, bad customer experiences continue to frustrate consumers, 57% of whom reported having a bad experience with a company, up slightly from 2008. In response, today's value-minded consumer is more likely to speak with their wallet, as 44% of respondents who had had a bad experience reported that they stopped doing business with the company concerned (up from 38% in 2008).
But those who stay are also more likely to seek and expect a satisfactory answer from a company when they do not receive the service and value they expect. Respondents tended to inform companies of bad experiences 66% of the time, up from 58% in 2008.
Companies that were not equipped to resolve or respond to customer complaints paid the price in terms of customer defections, with 57% who had reported a bad experience and did not receive a response had stopped doing business with the offending company, as did 50% of those who received a response that didn't help them.
Some 80% of respondents who had bad experiences also told their friends and colleagues about it, spreading the word through face-to-face chats, e-mails, text messages, and social media - all of which have great power to amplify the voice of the frustrated consumer among potential customers.
According to Boyce, there is a silver lining: "The research found that a meaningful number of customers who had stopped doing business with a company after a bad experience would go back to doing business with that company if the company made an effort to win them back."