UK businesses given “only one chance”
British businesses could learn a thing or two from X Factor and Dragon’s Den contestants, as first impressions really do count.
Research released today suggests that one in four of us (27 per cent) would never use a company again if we’d been on the receiving end of bad customer service.
And it gets worse. Customers routinely report negative experiences to to an average of nine friends and colleagues.
Conversely, satisfied customers could be a business’ best friend as 73% regularly recommend companies if they are on the receiving end of good customer service giving sales and profits a welcome boost.
Companies behaving badly should particularly be on guard with the rise of social media sites, such as Twitter, meaning customers can rant in mere seconds. Nearly one in five of us (19 per cent) would dish the dirt on a company via e-mail while one in seven (14 per cent) would post negative comments on forums. A further 10 per cent are happy to let off steam on Facebook. Unsurprisingly it’s the young adults and professionals under 35 that are most likely to blab about bad service online.
When it comes to our pet hates about customer service, the top things that really rile us are having to explain ourselves numerous times, rudeness, inefficiency and that irritating machine recorded message stating ‘how important our call is’.
Nick Jones, head of media at CPP the marketing research company that completed the study said: “Our research shows that people rate customer service almost as highly as a company’s products. In this competitive climate, British businesses need to realise they have one chance to make a good impression. Long gone are the days when someone would be a loyal customer because their parents used a particular company or brand. The internet means your competitors are only one click away, so businesses can’t afford to provide anything less than 100% customer satisfaction.
“Companies need to be mindful that the digital world is a breeding ground for negative comments, which can severely damage a company’s reputation. Our figures show that people are more likely to take time to post negative rather than positive comments online, so businesses need to ensure they have the right training in place and put the customer at the heart of everything they do.”
Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, said: “These are tough, challenging times and the loyalty of customers and their relationships with service suppliers are being severely tested. If customers don’t get service that is reliable, adaptable and available when they need it, they can quickly and easily go elsewhere.”
Suggestions on how to provide first class customer service:
• Be passionate about quality service – everyone in the company needs to understand nothing apart from great customer service is acceptable
• Have knowledgeable employees who understand your products and services and who can answer questions there and then or resolve queries or complaints quickly
• Assume your customers are right – most people are honest and just want fair treatment
• Treat customers with respect – every customer contact leaves an impression so make it a good one
• Deliver what you promise – if you don’t your customers will lose faith and quickly go elsewhere
• Make life easy for the customer – if they have to contact you to ask a question or even complain, make it as easy and simple as possible
• Don’t argue with a customer – try to focus on making it right, not what went wrong
• Think about customers long-term not just as a one-off sale – if you look after customers they will come back again and again
The online research was carried out by Tickbox.net / Opinion Matters amongst 1,123 UK adults. The research was conducted between the 18th and 21st September 2009.