Good Service Is Good Business

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
Customers are willing to spend more with businesses that deliver quality customer service.

Customers are willing to spend more with businesses that deliver quality customer service. So says the 2011 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey American Express conducts annually to uncover customers' attitudes and preferences toward service. This year's U.S. survey polled more than 1,000 American consumers.

According to the survey findings, 70 percent of Americans are willing to spend 13 percent more on average with companies that provide outstanding customer service. This is a significant increase from 2010 when only 58 percent of U.S. respondents said they would spend about 9 percent more with companies that offer superior service. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of Americans say they would try a new brand to get better service. However, consumers' desire for outstanding service, it seems, isn't being met. About 20 percent of U.S. respondents feel that their business is taken for granted; 60 percent say that businesses aren't focusing on providing great service (an increase of 5 percent over 2010) -- and of those respondents, about a quarter feel that business are paying less attention to service delivery. In fact, nearly 80 percent of American respondents decided against an intended purchase due to poor service.

That's not the only negative result of poor service. U.S. respondents say they tell about 16 people on average when they have a poor customer experience, but tell only about 9 people when the experience is a good one. More than half of the survey respondents have lost their temper with a customer service rep as a result of bad service, and nearly 40 percent of respondents whose service experience was bad enough to make them angry threatened to switch to the competition.

What's the source of great customer service when it does happen? In most cases it's engaged and empowered contact center agents. Sixty-five percent of respondents say that friendly service reps are the biggest influence on the service experience, and 66 percent say it's agent who are able to solve their problem are tops.

Ultimately, the survey suggests, companies that want customers to stick around and spend more need offer outstanding service--which means hiring agents who are naturally friendly and customer-focused, and then providing them with the authority, information, and tools required to solve customers' problems in the moment.