Ask most people for a story about a bad customer service experience they've had, and they are only too happy to share at least one harrowing tale.
Look up bad customer service on TikTok, and you'll find any number of video shorts to watch that make you think, "No way, did that really happen?" (You'll also find several employee videos complaining about irate customers.)
Look at the comments on a variety of company social media pages, and you're bound to find some unhappy remarks, dislikes, and cranky emojis…some comments might even make you blush.
Given these truths, one critical question comes to mind, especially in the age of 24/7 communication tools and digital conveniences: Why is good customer service so hard to get right? Perhaps even more important for producers of goods and services to ask is this: "How is OUR customer service perceived?"
94% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company again after a positive customer service experience.
These questions matter a lot in terms of growing market share. A reported 94% of consumers say they're more likely to purchase again from a business after having a positive customer service experience. This repeat business is critical to building brand loyalty as well; 88% of consumers say it takes them three or more purchases to secure their allegiance.
Are We Getting Greedy?
Certainly, the desire for good customer service is not a new trend in the marketplace. Historically, Alexander Graham Bell often gets credit for the advent of customer service with the invention of the telephone in 1876. However, the credit more aptly belongs to the First Industrial Revolution in the 1760s, which birthed the first customer service teams – with inventions and modernization came customer issues to manage.
Though the need for customer service is nothing new, today's customers have increasingly elevated expectations in service levels from the companies they patronize. The bar is now much higher and, once again, we can place some of the blame on COVID-19 for adding more pressure to the mix. An estimated 58% of consumers say they have higher expectations in customer service now than they did pre-pandemic.
This change is perhaps not all that surprising given the many accommodations companies had to offer during the pandemic's social and health restrictions; companies had to work within these parameters in order to keep their operations going and their doors open. Value-added services, such as delivery, curbside pickup, waived policies, and extended online/digital services, were created out of necessity, which we know is the "mother of all invention."
68% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from a company with strong customer service.
Now that the days of COVID-19 are becoming a distant memory, many of the service expectations from consumers have lingered. And some consumers are willing to pay for the cost of this better service. An estimated 68% of buyers will pay more for products and services from a company with a strong record of customer service. The old adage, "you get what you pay for," rings true with these customers looking to forgo the frustrations of mediocre or sub-par assistance. Sometimes the headaches are just not worth the savings.
Digital Service…The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
With the Digital Age well entrenched, customer service has received a lot of "air coverage" in better-assisting people. With 24/7 and on-demand capabilities that can even be customized to the individual customer, service is no longer a Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm (or less) endeavor that requires costly live support. Now, we can bank online whenever we want to and handle a lot of transactions ourselves; we can purchase and even manage returns/refunds on our own 24/7; we can schedule maintenance, order parts, look up policies and procedures, ask common questions, get copies of receipts, change our flights, book hotels, move investments, etc., the list goes on and on. This is by far the most self-empowered consumer base than ever before.
83% of customers who contact a company expect to interact with a human immediately.
Such empowerment is a good thing, right? Yes…and no. While many consumers love the flexibility and convenience of 24/7 self-service – especially Gen Z and Gen Y consumers – when it comes to customer service issues, not everyone is happy with the automated experience. Perhaps at times, we've become too robotic in our responses. Research shows that 83% of customers who contact a company say they expect to interact with someone immediately. Moreover, over half, or 56% of consumers, say the most frustrating thing about customer support is the automated telephone system that makes it hard to reach a human.
The same applies to those "live chat" features on company websites that are really just 24/7 bots. While they are great for asking common or simple questions – the kinds a customer service representative would get all day long, tying up personnel for those with more complicated service needs – they are painfully obvious in their pre-programmed personality. Try to go off the grid, and you'll stump the bot.
Overall, the vast majority of consumers appreciate self-service. They find it faster and more convenient, allowing customers to get service on their own terms. However, for companies looking to provide optimal service, especially among higher standards these days, digital support can be both a help and a hindrance. A balance built on an audience-centered approach is advisable.
When the Customer's Unhappy, You'll Know It
Organizations certainly want a happy customer base and most typically work diligently toward that end. However, the pressure to do so is even higher these days as consumers are not only the savviest in being informed and the most empowered with self-service, but they also have a vocal platform like never before.
62% of customers share bad customer service experiences with others.
Thanks to social media, consumers now have a two-way dialogue with manufacturers, retailers, and other businesses. And when they are unhappy, they are only too happy to leave that feedback for all the world to see. In fact, 62% of customers say they share bad experiences with others. While this can cause the organization some embarrassment and possibly even shame or lost prospects some of the time, having this two-way public dialogue can bring about a lot of benefits, too. It can help organizations quickly identify and address product/service issues, allow them to address the needs of the customers, and even publicly promote their responsiveness to customers' concerns.
This responsiveness is very important, given 61% of consumers say they would switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience. Better to know where it hurts so it can be fixed quickly as opposed to having a silent, now former customer.
Manufacturers Face Multiple Service Fronts
For manufacturers, in particular, service can be extra challenging. Being at the far left of the supply chain, you have many customers that follow after you in the links: wholesalers, retailers, and, of course, the ultimate end consumer of your goods/services. Each step along that supply chain provides opportunities for good (or bad) customer service.
Moreover, you are not always able to immediately affect the service your consumers receive. When there's a product issue, if handled poorly or unprofessionally by a reseller (let's face it, it happens), the consumer may blame the retailer for bad service, but they will still blame the manufacturer for the poor product experience and maybe even the total customer experience. Overall, the lacking service may leave a bad taste in the consumer's mouth when considering your brand, the next time.
One area of working with resellers that can hurt the customer's overall experience with your brand is pricing. Customers who feel they've received bad or unfair pricing or have perceived expectations based on your price may abandon your brand in future purchase decisions. Moreover, resellers who violate your pricing policies can also create some havoc in your supply chain and may cut corners in service levels to provide a cheaper experience to the end user. Given that pricing is very much tied to the perception of value in the marketplace, manufacturers need to keep a close eye on what is happening to theirs, especially online.
Price monitoring services like MAPCOP can help. We provide you with 24/7, real-time data so you can track your pricing. It's easy to use and…YES, we provide great customer service. But don't take our word for it – sign up for a free, zero-obligation trial today.
MAP enforcement can be challenging, especially when it comes time to contact a violator with proof. That's not the case with MAPCOP. When a reseller is found violating your MAP policy, a real-time screenshot is captured and can be passed on within one of our built-in, fully customizable notification templates. Our system watches retailers across the internet day and night, freeing you up to focus on other areas of your brand.