Customers’ expectations for service continue to rise, and the quality of your customer service can make or break your business, according to the Gladly Customer Service Expectations Survey.
Here’s what this survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. adults found and what you can learn from it.
Consumers value great service
- 54% make purchasing decisions based on customer service; for 19% it’s the single most important factor when deciding which companies to patronize.
- 98% would rather talk to a live person than deal with a recording when they call customer service.
- 68% would pay more for products or services from a company with good customer service.
Millennials place an even higher premium on good service than Generation X and baby boomers. They’re almost four times more likely than boomers to pay 20% more for good service.
The quality of your customer service can make or break your business.
You only have a few chances to get it right
Almost three-fourths (73%) of customers are willing to give a company more than one chance to deliver good customer service. But for 26%, just one bad customer experience is enough to persuade them to switch companies. And 92% would switch to another company after three bad experiences.
Online reviews matter more than ever
When making a purchase, consumers are 50% more likely to rely on online reviews than recommendations from friends and family. And only 8% of consumers rely on company advertising when making a purchase—so you might want to reduce your advertising spending and put that money into customer service instead.
Consumers share the good and bad
Customers are more likely to praise companies than to criticize them. After a good customer experience, 80% of consumers will recommend a company to friends and family and 40% will post about it on social media.
After a bad experience, 67% of consumers would actively dissuade friends and family from buying from the company and 42% would post about it on social media.
Your customers want consistency
Customer service expectations include communicating with businesses in lots of different ways. In fact, the majority of consumers use an average of at least three different channels for customer service, with phone, email, and live chat being the most popular.
However, customers also want a consistent experience across all of the channels they use—and only 29% say they usually get one. Make sure your employees are on the same page about your company policies and how to handle customer service problems. Create internal documentation that customer service people can refer to when they have questions.
Customers want you to get personal
Convenience and quick resolution of problems are important factors in customer service, but there’s one thing consumers value even more: being treated like unique, valued individuals. What are the most important things you can do to make customers feel valued? Here’s what customers said:
- Know my previous interactions—30%
- Follow up to ensure I’m satisfied—27%
- Greet me by name—20%
- Know my purchase history—15%
You can use customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service technology to keep track of customers’ previous interactions with your company, including purchases and conversations with your service team. Some 71% of people want companies to remember them. Doing so can have a big impact on their satisfaction with your business.
Use technology to meet customer service expectations
Know when technology can help you provide better service and when you need the human touch. For example, more than half of consumers who have used chat bots for customer service say the experience was average or poor. The report suggests that chat bots are not yet ready to handle complex questions or provide detailed answers. Use them to provide very basic guidance, but make it easy for customers to contact real people for more difficult questions.
Use technology to enhance efficiency and convenience. Customers are in a hurry and having to repeat the same story to three different agents is the opposite of efficient.
The most important step you can take, however, has nothing to do with technology: Listen to your customers. Actively reach out to get their feedback. Act on their suggestions. Last but not least, let them know when you have implemented their suggestions in your business. Customers who know you’re listening to their input can become your most devoted fans—and help attract more customers to your business.