As the credit crunch deepens, consumers are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor customer care, and are more likely to tell others about poor treatment.
The third annual Customer Experience Impact Report sponsored by RightNow Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals that outstanding service remains the top reason consumers will recommend a company (chosen by 53% of respondents), but consumers are even more likely to tell others about poor treatment following a negative customer experience - 74% of respondents said that they have done this in the past.
For the third year in a row, there is a growing trend for consumers to stop doing business with a company following a negative customer experience. This year, 81% of consumers will remove their business following a poor experience versus 76% in 2007 and 65% in 2006. However, despite a tough UK economy, the survey also found one in two consumers (50%) are willing to always or often pay more for a better customer experience.
The survey found that, far from being apathetic, consumers are fighting back against poor treatment in a number of ways, many of which could directly influence a company's bottom line. These include:
- Lost business: 81% will stop doing business with a company because of a negative customer experience, and 69% decide NEVER to use that company again.
- Viral detractors: 74% of consumers tell others about their poor treatment, and 20% have posted negative feedback online or to a blog.
- Operational burden: 61% have complained to the company at fault while 37% return products.
Poor customer experiences can also bring forth emotional outbursts from consumers. Following a poor experience; 32% of consumers have sworn, 25% have shouted, 9% have developed a headache or felt sick, 8% have cried and 6% have felt their chest tighten.
The survey also found that consumers are willing to reward companies for the provision of good customer experiences:
- Customer acquisition: 53% of consumers will recommend a company to someone else because it provides outstanding service.
- Repeat business: 52% of consumers would feel encouraged to spend more with a company if it were to improve its overall customer experience.
- Sustained business: even in an economic down turn, 50% of consumers will always/often pay more for a better customer experience.
For the third consecutive year, consumers voted 'waiting on hold' as the most frustrating aspect when contacting a company for assistance. When engaging with a company, British consumers also want quick access to a live agent. More than half (53%) found 'automated menus that don't provide an option to speak to a live agent', and 'being unable to reach a human being' (49%) frustrating.
"Against the current economic backdrop, more than ever before businesses need to understand the significance of delivering good customer experiences," says Joe Brown, RightNow's UK and EMEA general manager. "Emphasis has to be placed on retaining existing customers by fostering loyalty through satisfying interactions. The risk of not doing so exposes businesses to heightened customer attrition and will make it tougher to acquire new customers."