More than 80% of British consumers tell their friends, family and colleagues about their good and bad customer experiences, with three times as many passing on news of bad experiences compared to good experiences, according to a survey by the Consumer Forum.
With nearly all of the survey's respondents saying that bad customer service would compel them to take their business elsewhere, the implications for businesses are clear.
The Consumer Forum questioned thousands of consumers about everything from their experience of online retailers to which brands they rated most highly and which services they hated the most.
What makes good customer service
Consumers' views about what makes 'good customer service' included:
- Nearly two-thirds (60.9%) of respondents said that "a personal response to their issue" was most important, while 44.3% cited "speed of response" as an important factor;
- 57.6% felt that the best customer service is delivered in face to face situations;
- 56.9% felt that they receive the worst customer service by telephone;
- Nearly one third (31.7%) said that "rude staff" would be most likely to drive them to make a complaint.
The effects of good customer service
Consumers' views on the effects of good customer service included:
- 98.4% of respondents said that a good customer service experience would increase their loyalty to a brand;
- 97.7% said that experiencing bad customer service would compel them to take their business elsewhere.
E-retail customer service
Consumers' views about the level of customer service offered online included:
- 49% of respondents said they had seen an improvement in customer service since the introduction of the internet, while 51% said they had experienced a decline in customer service;
- Surprisingly, nearly one third (31.5%) cited "online customer service" as being the best - more than twice as many as those who cited "telephone customer service" (15.5%).
When asked to give an example of excellent customer service, online brands Amazon and eBay were frequently cited, with John Lewis and Marks & Spencer being regularly cited as popular high-street retail brands.