Good service key in Australia

14 October 2011

SYDNEY: A majority of consumers in Australia agree poor customer service damages brand perception levels and causes them to spread negative word of mouth, research has revealed.

American Express, the financial services provider, surveyed 1,021 adults in the country, and reported that 65% told other people about disappointing experiences in this area.

On average, shoppers informed 23 of their peers about unsatisfactory engagements with companies or products, but only mentioned a favourable interaction to ten other consumers.

Elsewhere, the analysis found 86% of Australians had previously abandoned a purchase while in stores due to the poor service they received, and 61% had got angry with the staff member concerned.

In all, 55% of consumers revealed a bad experience exerted the "most impact" on their attitude towards a brand, while 39% stated a favourable outcome held the same weight.

"Every single experience has an impact well beyond just one customer. Because consumers share their experiences so widely, every interaction counts," Christine Wakefield, AMEX's head of world service, said.

"That's why finding quality employees and ensuring they have the skills to make a connection, is central to giving customers a consistently excellent experience."

More broadly, 33% of participants thought firms were currently paying less attention to how they treated customers, 39% had seen no change on this measure and 24% cited an improvement.

Despite this, 55% believed their expectations were typically met by businesses, whereas 39% took the view these operators generally fell short, and 2% suggested they performed better than anticipated.

Similarly, 46% of the sample described companies as "helpful" but doing little to keep their business. A quarter of those questioned felt "taken for granted" and 10% concurred that corporations "didn't care", whereas just 2% felt "valued".

Exactly three-quarters of the panel had previously spent more with a company as a result of its strong service credentials. When quantifying the premium they would pay to secure such attention, contributors pegged this amount at 12%.

Another 55% would switch brands or company if promised better treatment, 25% were willing to travel a longer distance and 20% could be persuaded to "sacrifice convenience".

Data sourced from Marketing Mag; additional content by Warc staff