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Mila D'Antonio | October 8, 2008

Wake Up People--Customers Demand Great Service

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According to a recent customer experience study by RightNow Technologies and Harris Interactive, consumers seem to be more agitated than ever from poor customer experience...and they're not standing for sub-par service any longer

In fact, the study cites that 87 percent of consumers said they've stopped doing business with a company after a negative experience, up from 80 percent in 2007 and 68 percent in 2006. Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow said companies must wake up to these startling statistics. "Consumer expectations will continue to rise and companies will have to do a better job of taking care of them," Gianforte said at the RightNow Summit 08 this week.

With the rise of social media, people have even more outlets at their disposal to share their stories. The study shows that consumers are also more likely than last year to tell someone about their negative experience. "People like to tell good stories, unfortunately not at the same frequency as negative stories," Gianforte said.

The survey also showed that more than half (58 percent) of consumers often pay more for a better customer experience during a down economy. Ron Kelly, vice president, customer care and logistics at Drugstore.com, knows that and is on the cutting edge of delivering a pay-per-service model for his high-value customers. His company will soon launch White Glove Service, in which Drugstore.com will assign high-value consumers a dedicated phone number and agent to place order in that person's behalf.

But even with the most dedicated service, companies will have to turn their CSRs into sales associates. The study also indicated that more than half (58 percent) of consumers are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase during a service engagement.

Jason Mittelstaedt, CMO of RightNow, said that incorporating sales into service is a "good opportunity" in these tough economic times. "We fundamentally believe that in consumer-centric environments, service is the new sales," he said.

Whether or not you follow that belief, the bottom line is that organizations that provide a positive customer experience will not only see brand loyalty and return on their investment, they'll likely weather this economic storm.


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