Customers who experience a less-than-friendly employee are likely to form a bad impression of not only the employee but also of the store manager and the company as a whole, according to a recent BIGresearch survey of 7,000+ consumers.
More than half (53.4%) of consumers felt that a bad experience with an employee not only reflected poorly on the employee as an individual, but also on the store's manager and the retailer as a whole.
Respondents were asked: "When you receive bad customer service or are treated rudely by a store employee, who do you feel it reflects the most poorly upon?" The responses were as follows:
|Poor impression of...||% consumers|
|All of the above||53.4%|
More than half of consumers (53.4%) that have had a bad experience with a store's employee thought it was a poor reflection on the entire company, including management and front-line employees.
According to industry expert Dr Mike Thomson of It's All About Character, "It's a mistake I see time and time again: employers dismissing poor customer interaction on a singular level with their employees - 'they're just having a bad day' - as if there is ever a good time to have a bad experience with a customer!"
But, as Dr Thomson went on to explain, whether it's a waitress with a bad attitude, a sales clerk who frowns throughout the check out process, or a call centre agent who is less than helpful after the customer has been on hold for ages, it all adds up to increasing disloyalty and disenchantment with the entire company and its brand.
Customer service not improving
The survey also found that 85% of consumers felt that customer service has either been staying the same or getting worse, rather than improving over time. Some 42% of customers said that customer service is the one thing that businesses need to improve the most.
Respondents were asked: "Overall, do you think customer service is getting better or worse?" The responses were as follows:
|Service trend...||% consumers|
|A lot better||2.2%|
|A little better||12.4%|
|About the same||35.0%|
|A little worse||30.6%|
|A lot worse||19.8%|
According to Gary Drenik, president for BIGresearch, "There's a real and growing sense of impatience among consumers when it comes to customer service."
Dr Thomson concluded: "Good character comes from the employee, the manager, and the CEO all making the right choices, even when no one is watching. Doing right by the customer is to show them you're willing to do whatever it takes to honour their loyalty. Those that do it thrive. Those that dismiss unhappy customers as 'percentages and laws of average' are going to see decline."