More than three out of four (76%) of British consumers said they would stop doing business with any company that provides a bad customer experience (up from 65% in 2005), according to the latest 'Customer Experience Impact Report' by Harris Interactive, sponsored by RightNow Technologies.
In the UK, the first week of October 2007 was designated 'National Customer Service Week' with the aim of highlighting truly professional customer service. But is customer service in the UK really up to scratch?
Service levels still lacking
This latest research found that the levels of customer service offered by the country's major companies still need to improve significantly before winning the hearts and minds of consumers. In fact, 51% of adults indicated that they have never had a telephone-based customer service experience that exceeded their expectations.
On the positive side, though, for those companies that are getting customer service right, the survey found it can be a significant differentiator with 41% of consumers citing "outstanding service" as the main reason they have given more business to a particular organisation. And 52% cited "outstanding service" as the main reason they would recommend a company to others.
"Today, the success of every business depends on good customer experiences," said Joe Brown, general manager (EMEA) for RightNow Technologies. "Consumers are much more attuned to what is and isn't acceptable behaviour when they interact with organisations. With the proliferation of social media and e-commerce, along with the power of consumer recommendations, there's a clear message for organisations of all shapes and sizes: if you can't make it easy and satisfying for people to do business with you, you'll lose them to someone who does - and that will happen quickly."
Reinforcing negative service
The survey's findings suggest that organisations are actually perpetuating customer frustrations and inciting negative sentiment through the ineffective use of technology. For example, both the 2005 and 2007 reports found that 69% of adults felt that "waiting on hold" is the most annoying thing when trying to contact a company.
From an industry perspective, the top three sectors that British consumers found the most exasperating to deal with (in terms of customer service interactions) remain unchanged from the 2005 study, as respondents clearly indicated that telecommunication companies are the main problem, followed by the public sector and financial institutions.
The report also noted several interesting regional differences in how consumers engage with companies, and how they react to various customer service experiences. For example, compared to their counterparts across the whole UK, people living in the North East are more likely to swear, shout, or get a headache after a bad customer experience.
Adults in Yorkshire, however, are much more likely to take away their business due to a poor customer experience. The Scots are most likely to register a complaint or to tell others about their bad customer experiences, while the Welsh are most likely to actually cry after a bad customer experience. Londoners are the most technologically savvy, though, as they are the most likely to post a negative blog entry or online review after a bad customer service experience.
See The Wise Marketer's article from 4th September for comparable results from the USA - click here. The '2007 Customer Experience Impact Report' has been made available for free download from RightNow's web site - click here (free registration required).