Customer Experience Report: Make your customers happy… OR ELSE!

Devon-McDonald by

During the summer of 2010, Harris Interactive conducted its annual Customer Experience Report. The results are enough to make you want to drop everything and make customer service THE top priority for your business in 2011. Based on survey results, it’s safe to say that if your business has a poor customer service team, you are losing a lot of current customers, not to mention potential customers (hence you are losing a lot of money). Why? Because there is a word of mouth trend in full effect – dissatisfied customers are likely to (eagerly) spread the word regarding their bad experiences and make sure everyone is aware of a poorly functioning business’ shortcomings. Social networking sites make it that much easier to rant.

Here are some interesting stats from the report:

  • 55% of those surveyed became customers of a company because of their reputation for great customer service
  • 40% began purchasing from a competitive brand simply because of their reputation for great customer service
  • The US Airlines industry could have made an additional 10.6 billion this year by improving their customer service
  • 79% of consumers who had a negative experience with a company told others about it
  • 92% of consumers said they would be willing to go back to a company after a negative experience if they:
    • received a follow up apology/correction from a supervisor/head office (63%)
    • were offered a discount (52%)
    • or were offered proof of enhanced customer service (49%)

One company I feel has the worst customer service (ever) is Comcast. I’m sure a lot of people out there would agree with me. Between my fiance and I, we probably spent about 6 hours on the phone with Comcast’s customer service team in the last 3-4 months, either trying to either fix a technical problem or to figure out why our bill has spiked up 200%.

The people we dealt with were either incompetent or rude. Or both. IF and WHEN another competitor arises (we don’t have FIOS or Direct TV capabilities in our apartment), we will be sure to switch cable/Internet providers due to our negative experiences. Oh, and an example of word of mouth hurting a business — whenever someone speaks the word “Comcast” to me, I groan in disgust.

A positive customer experience story — my coworker Corey O’Loughlin recently had a bad experience with a Bissell vacuum cleaner. It was new and it broke. She tweeted about it, and as a result Bissel sent her a brand new vacuum free of charge within a week’s time. All from a Tweet! Now THAT is good customer service, and I guarantee Corey (and perhaps many of her friends who were impressed by her experience) will use a Bissell for a long time to come.

Bottom line: If you are an expansion stage company intending on scaling a business and create a true competitive advantage in the market — make sure your customer service team is top notch and focused on making your customers feel like they are a top priority… OR ELSE!