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Mila D'Antonio | January 11, 2012

Would You Pay for Better Customer Service?

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Every organization and company has unique opportunities to create meaningful interactions with their customers every day, through any channel, by engaging customers and offering exceptional value with each touch point.

New research shows the benefits of delivering such valuable customer experiences. RightNow Technologies has released the results of the company's annual Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report, which shows that delivering exceptional customer experiences is essential for brand growth and competitive differentiation.

The report, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of RightNow, interviewed 2,291 U.S. adults. Several of the key findings include:

- 89 percent of U.S. adults who've stopped doing business with an organization due to a poor customer experience began doing business with a competitor.
- 86 percent of U.S. adults will pay more for a better customer experience.
- 79 percent of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer experiences online had their complaints ignored.
- 73 percent of consumers said friendly employees or customer service representatives made them fall in love with a brand.
- 50 percent of consumers will stop doing business with a brand if they're customer service inquiry is not answered within one week.
- When asked specifically how companies can better engage with consumers to spend more, 54 percent said to improve the overall customer experience.

In response to the findings, RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte said, "To thrive in today's consumer-empowered environment, brands need to deliver the very best possible customer experiences when, where, and how consumers want it."

This statement rings true for a growing number of companies that are demonstrating the ROI of delivering exceptional customer experience even in small increments. J. Hilburn, for example, turned its existing customers into brand advocates, giving them tools to refer friends.

In September, the company launched a social referral program, incentivizing its existing customers with a $50 voucher for every client they referred who makes a purchase. New customers would also get a $50 discount on their first order of at least $100. The initiative had a positive effect on its customer experience, since both new and existing customers received something back.

Swisscom also shows positive results from investing in the customer experience. The telecommunications provider wanted to deflect calls to its contact center, but still provide customers with the support and answers they need.

After analyzing customer feedback the company modified its online content to meet customer needs, adding missing information and improving site navigation. Within a year of optimizing the online content and restructuring the information architecture, Swisscom increased the number of support requests solved online to 65 percent, a jump of more than 15 percent. This has led to savings of up to CHF3 million (around $3.2 million) in just 12 months.

Additionally, the company has seen a spike in customer satisfaction. Before the online support was restructured, Swisscom had an NPS of zero, with as many detractors as it had promoters, but this shot up to 30 immediately following the changes and has now stabilized at 20.

Such examples show the long-terms benefits of investing in the customer experience. Whether you start small or look at the customer experience as a whole across the enterprise, it's time to make the necessary analysis, investments, and changes toward improvement.

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