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Mila D'Antonio | May 2, 2012

Social Savvy Customers Impacted More by Poor Customer Service

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It's no mystery: Social savvy consumers have high expectations and will quickly spread the word when those needs aren't met. The results of the third annual American Express Global Customer Service Barometer released today confirm the lengths those consumers will go when they encounter poor service. The survey results also reveal how dismal the general state of customer service has become.

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The American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer, which interviewed 1,000 U.S. consumers in February, reveals that 93 percent of respondents said that companies fail to exceed their service expectations, and 55 percent actually walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience.

While those statistics are worrisome indicators of the state of customer service, what's even more troubling is the impact of the social discerning consumer when he experiences poor service. In fact, people who have used social media for customer service at least once in the last year are willing to spend 21 percent more with companies they believe provide great service, in contrast with the general population (13 percent more) and those who have not used social media for customer service (11 percent more). In addition, 83 percent of these consumers say they've bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55 percent overall.

Social media isn't the only channel through which consumers are spreading the word about their customer service experiences. Word of mouth still remains a big way that customer share their service experiences. Results show that the general population will tell significantly more people about their customer service experiences than in 2011. Americans will tell an average of 15 people about positive experiences--up 67 percent from 9 last year. They will also tell an average of 24 people about poor experiences--up 50 percent from 16 in 2011.

Additionally, 61 percent of Americans feel companies have not increased their focus on providing better service, and of this group, 32 percent feel businesses are paying less attention to providing good customer service--a 26 percent increase from 2011.

Companies must not only focus on the strategies, processes, and employee training that will help to improve their service levels, but they also must be present in social from a service standpoint. Social media should become a pillar of a brand's overall service strategy. For example, companies like Best Buy encourage and empower its associates to respond to customers online; others like Fair Isaac's reward customers for participation in online communities that help service and answer other customers' inquiries.

As the results of the American Express Global Service Barometer indicate, brands have reached a breaking point when it comes to customer service. The time is now to fix what's broken, think creatively, view the service experience from the outside in, and break down the walls within their organizations to share knowledge.

Customers won't wait and neither should you.

To read the overall report that includes customers' top service gripes and tips for providing better service, visit: http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2012/gcsb.aspx


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