Canadian consumers are increasingly demanding good customer service, even in preference to a good customer loyalty or rewards programme, according to the second annual TD Canada Trust Customer Loyalty Poll.
The survey found that customer service is so important that 95% of consumers feel that their experiences can make or break a relationship with a particular brand or company (up 10% points from the same survey in 2007).
Showing we care
Businesses are constantly looking for new ways to show customers that they care: they may offer rewards or loyalty programmes, or even gifts. And, although many consumers genuinely appreciate such perks and benefits, they also want to be treated well by the companies they choose to deal with.
In fact, when asked which form of appreciation they were most interested in, 49% ranked "good customer service" first. Reward or loyalty programmes followed next (18%), with gifts being consumers' third choice (17%).
"I'm not surprised that good service is the most important decider of loyalty for Canadians for the second year in a row," commented Tim Hockey, president and CEO for TD Canada Trust. "All of our research and all of the conversations we have with our own customers support this: Service is the number one deciding factor for people when they are choosing a company to deal with, and it's the hardest thing to get right. We've found that good customer service has a ripple effect, in fact our poll shows that 89% of people will share their positive stories with their friends and family."
Interestingly, when asked what makes customer service "great", the top answer was friendly staff (cited by 24% of consumers). The second and third most popular answers were quick service (15%) and being helpful (14%).
Canadians reported that they do generally receive good customer service, with nearly three-quarters (73%) reporting that they had received good customer service during the past month (up 11% points).
Other findings of interest from the survey included:
- Retail stores (29%) and financial services companies (28%) were perceived to have the best customer service, while utility companies (42%) were perceived to have the worst.
- 81% of people from BC reported that they had received great customer service during the past month, compared to only 73% nationally.
- Consumers in Quebec were more likely than the rest of the country to be interested in rewards and loyalty programmes (25% compared to 18% nationally).
- People from Manitoba and Saskatchewan were least likely to be interested in rewards and loyalty programmes (13%).
- Atlantic Canadians were most likely to purchase a service or product if it was recommended by a friend or family member (91%), whereas those in Quebec were least likely (66%).