Think you can't put a dollar amount on great customer service? Think again. StellaService, a provider of customer service ratings for online businesses, announced last week that the value of great online service in the U.S. is $17.3 billion and across all consumer categories it soars to $268 billion per year. Through a survey "The Value of Great customer Service," which interviewed 304 consumers about their spending habits, it determined that on average Americans are willing to spend approximately 9.7 percent more for great customer service. The value to retailers is that extra percentage that customers are willing to spend with various types of companies as a result of great customer service.
In conjunction with the survey, StellaService released its first ratings report of 150 of the largest online retailers. The evaluation process consists of a team of analysts conducting simulations of the user interface and the interaction with the website. The team looks at the online user experience, in terms of design and functionality, ordering, shipping, delivery, customer support, customer service performance (the tone of voice and friendliness of the agent), and finally the additional "wow" factor.
Jordy Leiser, cofounder and CEO of StellaService, said overall what surprised him most about the results, was that companies like Staples and Sears topped the list. "Those two don't necessarily get fit into the conversation as the world's best service organizations," he said.
Leiser wasn't surprised, however, that retailers that focus on value proposition, like discounts, rank at the bottom of the ratings. "Those guys clearly do not put the effort, time, and resources into the service proposition," he said. "You don't hear about these companies all that often because they're not terribly successful."
He cites companies like Bluenile.com and Diapers.com as being obsessed with the customer experience. "These are websites that people rave about and they are sites that are doing well," Leiser said.
His advice for online retailers based on the results of the ratings and survey? Capture additional value by offering additional service. "Take advantage of the enormous value," he said. "Find out what are the top ten things that are most important to online consumers. By focusing on some of these things, it can improve customer loyalty and top-line growth. These are fundamental business drivers for companies."