Friday, August 29, 2008

Customer Service Does Matter

A new study from Accenture was based on a survey of 3500 consumers on five continents. Two of the key findings are;
1. 59%of the customers had actually stopped doing business with companines in the past year due to poor service.
2. Just slightly less than half of those surveyed said that their expectations were met only sometimes, rarely or never.

There are some other surveys that provide similar results. For example, an annual survey of 137 retail firms conducted by the National Retail Federation and IBM found the following:
1. 10% of retailers measure customer satisfaction on a weekly basis.
2. 8% of retailers measure customer satisfaction on an annual basis.
3. 6% of retailers don't have any set schedule for tracking customer satisfaction.

ForeSee, a consulting firm that measures customer loyalty for web sites found that customer satisfaction fell 1.3% to 74% in 2007. They also found that customer satisfaction ratings declined for nearly half of the 40 on-line retailers last year. ForeSee CEO, Larry Freed suggests the decline may be due to higher customer expectations. The exceptions to the decline were Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble and Best Buy.

From another perspective, a survey of telecoms found that 96% of US customers said they wouldn't hesitate to switch carriers to get a better experience. 72% had already made a switch due to a negative experience. This was based on a survey of 2000 mobile phone users in the US.

Finally, Amdocs, a call center technology company, found from a survey of more than 2000 consumers in the US and Britain, that about 80% of consumers were satisfied with their service yet about 33% said they would switch to another carrier to get better services for mobile games, entertainment and ads.

The bottom line is that customer service seems to be playing a larger and larger role in building and maintaining customer loyalty. Some of the reasons the consultants say are impacting these statistics are;
1. Companies are cutting costs at the expense of customers.
2. Companies are misguided when they keep people on hold longer or slash store hours just to save money.
3. Companies can improve their customer service experience by appointing a high-level executive with real authority to enforce service levels - often called the chief customer officer.
4. A simple tactic is to make sure that all complaints get resolved on a single call.
5. Focus on brand consistency, increase product selection and enhance the user experience are some of the ways to gain ground in customer satisfaction according to Mark Mahaney, a Citi research analyst.

It all boils down to taking care of the customer. The better you take care of the customer the more you can count on the customer to came back. This is not rocket science.

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