economic environment (61%) and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service. However, in a challenging economy where growth is harder to achieve, many businesses are missing out on this opportunity. Although only a little more than a third of Americans (37%) believe that companies have increased their focus on providing quality service:
-- 27% feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service.
-- 28% say that companies are now paying less attention to good service.
These findings were released in the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in the U.S. and eleven other countries exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service.
Not surprisingly, nine in ten Americans (91%) consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company. But only one-quarter (24%) believe companies value their business and will go the extra mile to keep it. Most feel businesses can do more to retain their loyalty:
-- 48% feel companies are helpful but don't do anything extra to keep their business.
-- Worse, 21% believe that companies take their business for granted.
Importantly, customers are spreading the word willingly and widely when they experience good service. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, customers are more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one. Three-quarters (75%) are very likely to speak positively about a company after a good service experience in contrast with 59% who are very likely to speak negatively about a company after poor service.
Good service experiences also carry more weight than bad ones when Americans make future spending decisions. Consumers are far more likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience (81%) than they are to never do business with a company again after a poor experience (52%).
In fact, consumers say the three most influential factors when deciding which companies they do business with include personal experience (98%), a company's reputation or brand (92%), and recommendations from friends and family (88%).
Nearly half (48%) of consumers report always or often using an online posting or blog to get others' opinions about a company's customer service reputation. But when consumers go online they're looking for "watch outs," saying they put greater credence in negative reviews on blogs and social networking sites than on positive ones (57% and 48%, respectively).
A negative service experience is an important factor for most Americans: 81% have decided never to do business with a company again because of poor customer service in the past. When asked how many poor experiences they allow, half of all Americans (50%) reported it takes two poor service experiences before they stop doing business with a company.
Importantly, consumers are far more forgiving if a company has earned their trust over time. Almost nine-in-ten consumers (86%) report they're willing to give a company a second chance after a bad experience if they've historically experienced great customer service with that company.
But companies who get it wrong should realize it's at a cost.
-- Half of consumers (52%) expect something in return after a poor customer service experience, beyond resolving the problem.
-- Most consumers (70%) want an apology or some form of reimbursement.
In most countries where the highest percentage of consumers feel that service is more important today, there is a corresponding belief that companies have increased their focus on providing good customer service:
-- 65% of Indian, 49% of Japanese and 47% of Mexican consumers agree with this statement.
However, some consumers are not feeling the love. In Australia (71%), Germany (66%), and Canada and Italy (65% each), consumers say they feel companies haven't increased their focus on service or are paying less attention to it.
More information on customer service can be found at www.CRMindustry.com