You may think that simply because you offer an excellent customer experience, your customers will be loyal… but what is really happening? Is it possible that YOUR definition of a great customer experience differs from your customers?
A recent article on Business2Community covered how a study by American Express of 11,000 people across the globe, found that roughly 2/5 of consumers believe that, while companies are helpful, they don’t do anything extra to earn their business. Only 7 percent of Americans reported that they felt companies exceeded their expectations; 31 percent reported that companies missed their expectations; and 59 percent believed that companies DID meet their expectations. Hey, 59 percent isn’t that bad, right?
Not exactly. Consider this: The fact that a consumer got a mediocre (meaning not great but not bad) experience at your business probably won’t elicit any sense of loyalty. When you go to the movies, you EXPECT the movie to play just like you expect your oil to be changed in the service drive. Perhaps the movie is a little out of focus, or doesn’t start quite on time, but the problem is fixed fairly quickly. That doesn’t mean you had a BAD experience — but it certainly doesn’t mean you had a great one. Would that prevent you from returning to that movie theater? Maybe, maybe not. But what if a BETTER movie theater opened up not too far way… one with couches instead of chairs. Ottomans to rest your legs on. That might cause you to change your mind, right? It’s the same thing with consumers. They may not abandon you because they had an O.K. experience. But, if a GREAT experience comes along elsewhere, they just might.
In the same study, 22 percent of consumers felt that companies take their business for granted. And, 75 percent stated that they have spent more money at a business because of a good customer service experience. Which group do you think is more loyal? Well, according to the study, 13 percent report that they would spend more money with a company that provided excellent service. And, a full 35 percent said that companies that do provide excellent service have earned their business. But wait… 44 percent of the respondents EXPECT excellent service and do not believe they should have to spend more to get it. So which is it? Will they spend more for it? Or do they simply feel as if a great experience is expected?
Well, both. Regardless of price, consumers will spend more for great service — but also expect it. And not only do they expect it, they are vocal about their experiences. When customers do have great experiences, 44 percent will tell other people. BUT, if they have poor experiences 56 percent are more likely to.
How much influence does customer experience have on purchasing decisions? A lot. 55 percent indicated that they did not follow through with a purchase due to poor customer service. Imagine losing out on 55 percent of potential sales or service business. And it can be something as simple as being placed on hold on the phone. How long are Americans willing to wait? Well, we all have limited attention spans and that proves to be the case in this study — 19 percent are willing to wait up to 5 minutes and 29 percent up to 10.
Customer service and experience are key customer acquisition and retention drivers. Regardless of any other factor, consumers expect great experiences, prompt responses and personalized treatment. Any less than that — while you may have their business for now, they’ll jump ship to your competition the second they offer a better experience than you do. Analyze, review and make changes that acquiesce your customers. Stop focusing on what YOU think is the best customer experience and start focusing on what THEY do. Only then will you earn their loyalty and reap the benefits.