It’s no great secret that consumers these days expect great customer service. Fortunately, they are willing to pay a premium for it, according to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted recently in the U.S. and 11 other countries.
A majority of the 1,000 Americans surveyed (61%) agreed that quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment. Those polled added that they would be willing to spend an average of 9 percent more with a firm that provides excellent service.
Ironically, many businesses seem a little clueless about service. About a third of the respondents say they think companies have increased their focus on good service in recent years, but more than half—55 percent—say things have not changed or have actually gotten worse with the economy.
“Customers want and expect superior service,” says Jim Bush, executive v.p. for American Express World Service. “Especially in this tight economic environment, consumers are focused on getting good value for their money….It’s important to see customer service as an investment, not a cost.”
The study also found that, contrary to popular wisdom, customers who have a good experience are more likely to share their experience than those who have a bad one (75% vs. 59%).
Restaurant operators should be especially mindful of one additional finding from the study: Nearly half of the respondents said they use the web to research a company’s customer service reputation, and they put greater weight on the complaints than the kudos (57% vs. 48%, respectively).
“The Internet has made service quality more transparent than ever before,” Bush observes. “Because consumers can broadcast their views so widely online, each and every service interaction a company has with its customers becomes even more crucial.”
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