Customer Service Still Important

August 11, 2009
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Despite the recent focus on rock-bottom prices, new research by the Strativity Group, Rochelle, N.J., shows demand for customer service is alive and well.

For those of you who thought the need to provide good service died along with the economy, think again! Despite the recent focus on rock-bottom prices, new research by the Strativity Group, Rochelle, N.J., shows demand for customer service is alive and well. And even more important, consumers are willing to pay a premium to get it.

Results of the company’s “2009 Customer Experience Consumer Survey” revealed that 40 percent of satisfied shoppers would be willing to pay an additional 10 percent or more to continue doing business with a company that delivers great customer service. On the flip side, 52 percent of consumers dissatisfied by their experience with a particular company would continue to shop there only if the outlet offered a discount of 5 percent or more.

In addition, the report said, 70 percent of shoppers are willing to outlay 10 percent or more of their total spend with businesses that exceed their customer service expectations. The most important drivers of exceptional customer experiences are quick and effective issue resolution, common sense and discretion, exceeding expectations, and ease and simplicity, Strativity said. The company also cited the importance of the human touch.

“In this recession,” Strativity explained, “many companies are investing heavily in alternatives to live interaction channels, specifically in Web and phone-based self-service mediums. However, according to survey participants, companies also need to remember to invest in those channels that provide consumers with the opportunity to interact with a real person.”

The survey also revealed a link between good customer service and longevity. According to the report, loyal customers are almost three times more likely than dissatisfied customers to continue doing business with a company for another 10 years or more. Unhappy customers, on the other hand, are 10 times more likely than their satisfied counterparts to take their business elsewhere in the next 12 months.

“In contrast to the popular perception that consumers focus on price only, our study demonstrates that consumers are paying attention to the customer experience they receive and are willing to reward exceptional experiences with larger purchases, longer relationships and premium price,” concluded Strativity CEO Lior Arussy in a statement.

The online survey took place during a three-week period in late April/early May and included almost 2,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers.

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