German shoppers willing to pay for good service

20 August 2010

FRANKFURT: Most shoppers in Germany would accept higher prices in exchange for excellent customer service, according to a survey.

American Express, the US financial services firm, interviewed 1,000 adults in the country, finding that 65% believe previous experience is a central factor in determining where they bought products.

One third of contributors said that recommendations from friends and family played a key role in this area, rising to around half among customers under the age of 30 years old.

A further 55% of the panel argued that increased prices were a fair trade off for better quality service, a perception that peaked with younger consumers and those boasting an annual income of at least €20,000 ($26k; £16k).

On average, respondents expressed a willingness to pay an extra 7%, and a majority had already followed this kind of path as a result of having their expectations exceeded in the past.

Two-thirds of people suggested service was more important as in the recession, but only 28% believed businesses had demonstrably improved performance levels since the onset of the crisis.

In terms of identifying particularly attractive credentials, 90% of individuals agreed firms should deal with queries and concerns effectively.

Knowledgeable staff posted a score of 86%, a figure that stood at approximately 75% when it came to reacting quickly if problems arose.

Being put on hold while attempting to resolve a complaint irritated 71% of high-earning participants and 54% of their counterparts in lower income groups.

Similarly, personal contact with representatives of companies was described as essential by over 50% of the sample.

"Many consumers are very conscious of the human component of customer service," said Werner Decker, head of American Express in Germany.

Data sourced from FinanzNachrichten; additional content by Warc staff