Survey: Consumers likely to share opinions on customer service

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- A survey released Monday by Spherion Staffing Services said that when consumers have a positive customer service experience, they are more likely than ever before to share their opinions than in previous years, especially via social media, online review sites, and with the company itself.

The survey showed that when consumers have a good customer service experience, 47% are likely to tell a company representative; 17% will express their opinions via social media; and 15% will write a review. The same survey from 2010 showed that only 40% of consumers were likely to share a great experience with a company representative — proving that consumers are becoming more vocal with companies they interact with.

If consumers have a poor experience, 36% are willing to write a complaint directly to the company, and one in four will express their opinions on social media. Nineteen percent, the same statistic as last year, will choose to write a review online.

In addition, about 10% are even willing to reach out to the media about their experiences. If they're unhappy, 9% will contact the media to report it, up 1% from last year. Those who have great experiences are less likely to make news, with 5% calling for media attention, also up 1% from last year.

"Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion's senior VP of the franchise and licensee division. "So many companies have cut corners in this economy when it comes to customer service, but the impact of those decisions is greater than ever as people decide to speak up about who treats them well … and who doesn't."

Most consumers also feel that companies could stand to improve their customer service skills. When asked what percentage of their experiences was good over the last several months, 41% of people had good experiences less than 60% of the time. Only 26% had positive experiences 80% of the time or more, a statistic that fell from 32% last year.

Consumers are also remaining loyal to the businesses that treat them well. Ninety-seven percent said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service, similar to last year's 98.6%. However, once their trust is lost, it's hard to earn back. Twenty-two percent want a simple apology, 10% want a complete refund, and 8% would want incentives or coupons. Forty-six percent, however, said that it would take all three, which means earning repeat business after a bad experience is costly and time consuming. Fifteen percent said absolutely nothing would amend their bad experience.

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