Friday, February 13, 2015

Is the customer the king or a sucker?

I have just finished writing three reviews on TripAdvisor for hotels where I stayed during a recent tour of Asia Pacific. As I wrote the third one I began to wonder if I was becoming something of a 'soft touch' since I gave all three a five star rating.

The service in all locations was brilliant. I paid the bill each time thinking that 'was great value for money'.

I comforted myself by remembering that if I was asked to rank the service I had recently received in the UK from an insurance company, a solicitor, a utility provider, health provider (NHS) and a local council, I would have scored them minus five. These organisations have no concept of 'customer service'. Their main thought is to do as little as possible and expect the customer to be grateful.

So with these thoughts I was relieved to find this article about a report from Accenture.

Apparently, 53% of US customers surveyed last year reported having switched providers during the prior year due to poor service. I am amazed it is so little.

Of the 11 industries that Accenture tracked, customers in the retail sector were the most prone to switching (most likely due to the ease of doing so), with 30% reporting having switched providers due to poor service. Next on the list, 11% of cable/satellite TV service customers reported having switched providers, likely related to providers’ chronically low customer satisfaction ratings.

Significantly, some 73% of those who switched said they would not consider switching back to their original provider or doing business with them again.

What were the things that most annoyed the customers:

Contacting customer service multiple times for the same reason (86%);
Being put on hold for a long time (85%);
Customer service agents who cannot answer the questions (84%);
Repeating the same information to multiple customer service agents (83%);
The company delivering something different than what they promised up front (83%); and
Unfriendly or impolite customer service agents (82%).

Most of my time is spent helping companies improve their customer experience. I guess what this research shows, and what is my experience, is that there is a massive gulf between the best and the average.

I am going to write a lot more about customer experience since it is something where the physical results of ageing can have a major impact. For our clients we are helping them to fine tune the top 5-10% of their customer experience. Most organisation have not reach getting the basics right. Dick Stroud

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