A majority of Americans report that quality customer service is more important to them in today's economic environment and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service.
A little more than a third of Americans (37%) believe that companies have increased their focus on providing quality service.
The above statistics come from the 2010 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a study focusing on customer buying experiences and attitudes. Some additional statistics from this barometer shows that;
27% of consumers feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service.
28% of customers say that companies are now paying less attention to good service.
9 in 10 Americans consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company.
48% of shoppers believe companies don’t do anything extra to keep their business.
21% of consumers believe that companies take their business for granted.
25% of customers believe that companies do value their business and will go an extra mile to keep it.
The overwhelming factor of this study is that in today’s economy, the customer does expect more; not just in lower prices, but better service as well. Customers believe that it is up to the retailer to retain their loyalty, and those that go the extra mile will get their business.
The question becomes, what are retailers doing to make certain they provide a great customer experience to retain customers?
There are some great examples across the industry and verticals of companies doing it right. Apple, Whole Foods and Dunkin Donuts are a few great examples. Yes, product and branding do play a large role in these success stories, but studies like the one above, show that consumers will pay more for a better and consistent experience.
When it comes to customer experience creating brand recognition and value are vital. Those companies that truly focus on the customer shopping experience, from the CEO down to the part time associate, have better results and experience improved customer loyalty. Here are 3 strategies that we have seen from those companies who have excelled in developing strong customer experience programs.
Develop their program for the outcomes that a customer expects, not what the company expects. Companies that stand out in “great” customer service design their customer experience program to match all functions of the operation process. They listen to their customers, find out what they expect for a shopping experience and build their mystery shopping and customer experience programs to their expectations. I have been part of many customer focus groups where the process starts with listening to your customers and understating what is most important to them.
Listen to their retail employees. Talk to those who face the customers directly in the stores and those handling customer complaints. Understand the attitudes and behaviors of each store position and how they interact with customers for every type of situation. This is the person representing your brand and the message you are delivering in your marketing efforts. Information gained from this step will also help determine how easily your final product can be executed throughout the company.
Inspect What You Expect. Delivering superior customer experiences starts with first understanding what is taking place and then analyzing that information to make necessary changes. Those excelling in this area are focused on measuring and adjusting their mystery shopping and customer service programs as data predicts change. Companies that are willing to analyze and tweak their efforts as they learn from their results are prone to see an increase in how their customers view their shopping experience.
In such a challenging economy, where the characteristics of a customer has become unpredictable, providing a great customer experience will not only retain a loyal customer, but will increase future customers as they pass along their positive experiences. This year you may not have to look too far to seek a competitive advantage, it may be right inside your store.
Written by Kevin O’Brien, Account Executive