Sometimes, it’s not the economy, stupid. In spite of an economic reality that would seem indicate that price is the most important factor in a customer’s purchasing decision, a new survey by American Express suggests that it’s not.
According to the survey of 1,000 consumers in 12 countries, including the U.S., conducted by the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 61% of consumers said the slow economy has made customer service more important to them than ever. In fact, survey respondents indicated that they are willing to pay even more for good customer service—9 percent more--on average.
In spite of this, a good portion feel that businesses have not made an effort to cash in on the value they are placing on good customer service . More than a quarter of respondents—27 percent—said that companies have not made a move to improve customer service . Another 28 percent said companies are paying less attention to customer service than in the past.
The results of the survey are not a complete surprise to those who follow customer service trends. Eric Fraterman, owner of Toronto-based Customer Focus Consulting, told BusinessNewsDaily that other recent research confirms the American Express survey findings.
“In this economy, people are especially short on time,” Fraterman said. “Good customer service means less time, effort, money and stress spent by a consumer.”
Good customer service breaks down to a few key strengths, Fraterman said in a phone interview. Businesses need to be consistent, reliable, trustworthy, easy to access, good at communicating and empathetic.
“This is the foundation that the rest of the house is built on,”Fraterman said.
Fraterman also said that what he found even more interesting was the survey’s finding that customers are more willing to spread the word about a good customer service than bad.
“This is a new phenomenon,” Fraterman said. Traditionally, research has revealed that customers are much more likely to share negative experiences than positive. According to this survey, however, 75 percent of respondents said they are very likely to share a positive purchasing experience as opposed to 59 percent who said they are very likely to spread the word about negative experiences.
The Internet has turned that number on its head, however. While 48 percent of respondents said that they will turn to online reviews to make a purchasing decision, respondents said that they take negative reviews more seriously than positive ones on the Internet.