Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Look at the Dark Side of Customer Service

A brief note on the net showed that the dark side of customer loyalty and customer satisfaction is perhaps larger than we think. A survey by Taylor-Hill, a british firm that specializes in customer satisfaction research, polled 2,000 respondents across the UK. Their findings are astonishing and present a frightening picture of what companies appear to be providing to customers.

Here are some of the examples:
1. 70% of those polled accused UK firms of failing to reward customer loyalty.
2. Almost half of the respondents said UK companies had the worst approach to customer service among major world economies.
3. 49% of the respondents thought they were treated more poorly by UK firms than customers in Japan, USA and France.
4. More than 75% thought senior managers in UK companies were more interested in the latest management fads than what customers think.
5. 53% thought the public transport operators were bad at understanding customer needs.
6. 47% thought that the transport operators were the worst at rewarding customer loyalty.
7. Last but of significant importance - 91% of the respondents believe that "making money" was the most important consideration for large firms.

Some thoughts
First, let me speak to the last statistic that 91% of the respondents believe that large companies think first about making money. My first reaction is that is their job - to see that the company makes money. Too often, I think people forget that companies that do not make money either go out of business or become government subsidized. However, I can say that companies with higher levels of customer satisfaction than their competition tend to make more money than their competitors. I documented this with a colleague in an article in the Business Renaissance Quarterly Journal. Of course, the challenge for company executives is to find the balance between superior customer service and profitability.

Now, lets consider the first six statistics. There appears to be a crying need for UK companies to improve their level of customer service. There is no doubt that customer service can always be improved, but these statistics suggest (rather strongly) that many are definitely not happy with the service they are receiving.

I am currently analyzing about 350,000 customer satisfaction surveys from around the world and will be publishing the results by country. I am only looking at high technology companies that provide field service, depot service and help desks. I can say that the first cut that groups companies by area of the world suggests that European countries have lower levels of customer satisfaction than either the Americas or the Asia-Pacific countries.

The Bottom line is that dissatisfaction is real and may be much larger than we think - even though we, and most companies, believe we/they are providing good service. Maybe we are missing something! Do you think?

1 comment:

SteveBernstein said...

Thank you for sharing these stats. I look forward to seeing the results of the analysis you referenced. This also reminds me of 2 other items I thought I'd share:

1. You commented on my blog that you'd like to see detailed information on Loyalty Economics. The full whitepaper is at
Your views would be interesting and appreciated.

2. A related study: "96% [of senior executives in a Bain & Company survey] said they were focused on the customer. 80% believed they delivered a ‘superior experience’ to their customers. Alas, when we asked customers in another survey to rate the providers of goods and services that they bought from, they gave only 8% of companies a superior rating." — Fred Reichheld, The Ultimate Question, page 117


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