Once you've lost a customer's trust, it's hard to gain it back, new research confirms.
The study by Spherion Staffing Services also found that consumers stay loyal to the businesses that treat them well.
Nearly 100 percent of the surveyed shoppers said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service.
But just one bad experience makes shoppers think twice before dipping into their wallets again. To gain back their business, 22 percent of those surveyed said they want a simple apology, 10 percent want a complete refund and 8 percent want incentives or coupons.
Nearly 50 percent of the shoppers said that it would take all three to make them return as customers, proving that earning repeat business after a bad experience is costly and time-consuming. Fifteen percent said absolutely nothing would amend their bad experience.
"People expect more pleasant, personalized interactions with companies, and they want to feel positive about the way they are treated," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion's senior vice president of the franchise and licensee division."They're more careful than ever about where they spend their money, which means that in a competitive market, customer service is more important than ever."
Good or bad, the research shows that shoppers are now, more than ever, willing to share their opinions about a business.
When consumers have a good customer-service experience, the survey found that 47 percent, up from 40 percent last year, are likely to tell a company representative; 17 percent will express their opinions via social media; and 15 percent will write a review.
Following a poor experience, 36 percent indicated they are willing to write a complaint to the company, and 1in 4 said they would express their opinions on social media.
Consumers who have had poor experiences also tend to talk with friends about it, and their friends listen, according to the research. Nearly half of those surveyed are highly unlikely to do with business with a company based on a bad recommendation from someone they trust.
"Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand," Mazur said. "So many companies have cut corners in this economy when it comes to customer service, but the impact of those decisions is greater than ever as people decide to speak up about who treats them well… and who doesn't."
The research was based on surveys of more than 1,200 consumers.