When customers are treated right, they stay


It was nearly unanimous . . . virtually all of the more than 1,200 people surveyed said a great experience makes them more likely to buymore of a product or repeat a service, according to a study recently released by Ft. Lauderdale-based Spherion Staffing Services.

While that finding shouldn’t surprise anyone, the survey (www.spherion.com) revealed a lot of other interesting information worth pondering and conveying to a dealership’s staff.

For example, these days when consumers have a positive customer service experience, they are more likely than in previous years to share their opinions with others, especially via social media, online review sites, and directly with the company itself.

Most notable, 47 percent say they’re likely to tell a company representative, 17 percent will use social media to indicate their positive feelings and 15 percent will even write a review. The same survey in 2010 indicated only 40 percent of consumers were likely to share a great experience with a company representative, clearly showing consumers are becoming increasingly vocal with and about companies they choose to give their business to.

But we know customer service is always a double-edge sword. If consumers, for example, have a poor service experience, 36 percent said they’re willing to write a complaint directly to the company, and 25 percent said they would express their opinions on social media. Moreover, 9 percent indicate they would even contact the local media to report it, up one percent from last year.

Clearly, if the trust of the customer is lost, the odds are against getting it back. When things go wrong, 22 percent indicated they would accept a simple apology, 10 percent want a complete refund, and 8 percent would want incentives or coupons to return. But, a whopping 46 percent said it would take all three! That signals that any effort to gain back a customer following a bad experience will be costly and difficult, at best. And, 15 percent said absolutely nothing would bring them back, period!

Moreover, customers who have had a poor experience also tend to talk with friends about it, and their friends listen. For example, 49 percent of consumers say it’s “very unlikely” they would do with business with a company based on a bad recommendation from someone they trust. Conversely, if someone talks about having a great experience with a business, 61 percent said they’re likely to choose that business in the future.

Perhaps good customer service is a simple and one, two, three: (1) communication was rated the most important service quality, with 85 percent rating it as important. (2) Courteous and well-mannered treatment was right behind at 84 percent. (3) Then, the ability to resolve issues quickly came in at 83 percent.

“Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand,” says Sandy Mazur, Spherion’s senior vice president of the franchise and licensee division. “So many companies have cut corners in this economy when it comes to customer service, but the impact of those decisions is greater than ever as people decide to speak up about who treats them well… and who doesn’t,” she adds.

It’s worth sharing and emphasizing with everyone on staff as we head for 2012.


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