American Express survey: Customers will spend more with companies that provide excellent service
New York City A majority of Americans report that quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment (61%) and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service. These are among the findings of the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in the United States and 11 other countries exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service.
“Customers want and expect superior service,” said Jim Bush, executive VP World Service. “Especially in this tight economic environment, consumers are focused on getting good value for their money. Many consumers say companies haven’t done enough to improve their approach to service in this economy, and yet it’s clear they’re willing to spend more with those that deliver excellent service — suggesting substantial growth opportunities for businesses that get customer service right. It’s important to see customer service as an investment, not a cost.”
Nine in 10 Americans (91%) consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company. But only one-quarter (24%) believe companies value their business and will go the extra mile to keep it. Most feel businesses can do more to retain their loyalty, and 48% feel companies are helpful but don’t do anything extra to keep their business. Worse, 21% believe that companies take their business for granted.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, customers are more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one, according to the survey. Three-quarters (75%) are very likely to speak positively about a company after a good service experience in contrast with 59% who are very likely to speak negatively about a company after poor service.
Good service experiences also carry more weight than bad ones when Americans make future spending decisions. Consumers are far more likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience (81%) than they are to never do business with a company again after a poor experience (52%).
Consumers say the three most influential factors when deciding which companies they do business with include personal experience (98%), a company’s reputation or brand (92%), and recommendations from friends and family (88%).
Nearly half (48%) of consumers report always or often using an online posting or blog to get other’s opinions about a company’s customer service reputation. But when consumers go online they’re looking for “watch outs,” saying they put greater credence in negative reviews on blogs and social networking sites than on positive ones (57% and 48%, respectively).
Bluefly.com invests in customer satisfaction
Retailers understand now, more than ever, if an e-commerce site experiences technical problems, online shoppers could easily make a purchase elsewhere. In response, companies are upping their game to detect and quickly fix web issues to keep shoppers satisfied and also bring in sales.
For example, online retailer New York City-based Bluefly.com once had an undetected outage on its site for 10 hours where customers could not add items to their shopping carts. The problem caused a big loss in revenue.
“We had to ensure that something like that would never happen again,” said Matt Raines, VP technology for Bluefly. “Since we are an online-only business, if our site is experiencing a technical problem and customers cannot add to cart or checkout — we might as well have a “closed for business’ message on our homepage.”
As a result, Bluefly sought a customer experience management solution to prevent issues such as this from occurring.
“It doesn’t matter if people can still browse products,” Raines said. “If the most critical part of our site is down and the customer cannot transact, it makes no difference if every other part of the site is working. That is what led us to Tealeaf.”
Bluefly turned to San Francisco-based Tealeaf’s customer experience management platform in 2006 and the solution was up and running within a week. Tealeaf provides real-time customer behavior analysis for web businesses focused on optimizing the online channel. It also measures site experience in real-time by identifying patterns of behavior that signify customer struggle and helps businesses fix them fast.
Soon after implementation, the company detected an issue with its Bill Me Later application page. However, after it was fixed, Bluefly experienced a 43% increase in purchases using Bill Me Later.
In another instance, the merchant was alerted to an issue with its international guest checkout workflow that was preventing customers from checking out.
“Once we identified the problem and isolated the issue, we increased gross revenue by 10% in the 30 days following, which on an annualized basis is about $1.1 million in additional sales,” Raines explained.
Overall, the solution allowed the company to focus on the issues that were most pervasive and affected the largest number of customers.
Tealeaf recently released Tealeaf 8 in April with updated capabilities to optimize websites. Moving forward with the latest edition of the solution, Bluefly is developing a way to alert its customer service team when a shopper fails to checkout so they can contact them as soon as the customer’s session ends.
“We are also researching how we can leverage Tealeaf to improve our fraud detection capabilities,” Raines added.
In addition to making sure the site runs smoothly, Bluefly is also reaching out to customers in fun and innovative ways to keep them engaged with the brand. The company has been blogging for a few years and is now tweeting on a regular basis. It also maintains a Facebook page.
“Like many retailers, we are experimenting with all different forms of social networking to reach our customer base where they are online and empower them to share their experiences with their friends,” Raines said. “We hope to do more of this in the future as well.”
Barilla enlists chef Krieger to promote whole grain pasta
CHICAGO Barilla announced that it has enlisted celebrity chef Ellie Krieger to help it promote its whole grain pasta line.
“To get people to eat well, don’t say a word about health, rather just cook fantastic food for them,” said Ellie Krieger. “For example, Barilla Whole Grain pasta makes healthy eating a culinary experience; it is delicious while providing all the health benefits of whole grains.”
To further promote its whole grain pasta, Barilla announced that, through Oct. 31, customers who purchase a box of Barilla Whole Grain and are not satisfied by the product can receive a free box of their favorite regular Barilla pasta by submitting a completed redemption form found on the promotion website, original store receipt and UPC symbol.