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American Express survey: U.S. consumers will spend 13% more for good customer service

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Americans are placing an even greater premium on quality customer service this year, with 70% willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service, according to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer. This is up from 2010, when 58% said they would spend an average of 9% more for great service.

The survey, conducted in the United States and nine other countries, found that despite the greater value Americans are placing on customer service, many businesses are not making the grade.

Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe businesses have not increased their focus on providing good customer service, up from 55% in 2010. Among this group, 26% think companies are actually paying less attention to service. One bright spot: small businesses. Four in five Americans (81%) agree that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses.

"Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must do," said Jim Bush, executive VP World Service. "American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service, and they will also tell, on average, twice as many people about bad service than they are about good service. Ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty."

In other results:

• Seventy-eight percent of U.S. consumers have not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. On the other hand, 59% said they would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.

• Consumers will tell others about their customer service experiences, both good and bad, with the bad news reaching more ears. Americans say they tell an average of nine people about good experiences, and nearly twice as many (16 people) about poor ones.

• Customers who have a fantastic service experience say friendly representatives (65%) who are ultimately able to solve their concerns (66%) are most influential.

• More than half of respondents (56%) admit to having lost their temper with a customer service professional. Consumers age 30-49 are the most frequently angered (61%).

The survey found that businesses may want to rethink their traditional service scripts. Customers are equally irked by three of the most frequently-used customer service phrases — with the Internet generation particularly put off by not getting a quick answer and people 50 and older grimacing over hold music. The three phrases are: “We’re unable to answer your question. Please call xxx-xxx-xxxx to speak to a representative from xxx team; We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold or try back at another time; and "Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold."

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Target in Canadian court over trademark dispute

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Target Corp. was due in court in Canada on Monday in an attempt to win exclusive right to use its name in Canada, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Target is asking the court to impose a preliminary injunction against Canadian retailer Isaac Benitah and his company, Fairweather, which owns 15 stores across Canada called Target Apparel and has a logo similar to that of Target Corp, the report said.

Target Corp. and Benitah have been at odds for nearly 10 years now as to owns the rights to the Target name in Canada. The filing alleged Mr. Benitah’s use of the Target name on his stores is "deliberately calculated to deceive and confuse the public in Canada,” according to the report.

Benitah’s company has filed a counterclaim denying the allegations and asking for exclusive rights to the Target name. It also asked for $250 million damages from the chain.

Benitah owns several Canadian retail chains with a total of 300 stores. His Target-named stores feature the name in big block letters, with the word Apparel in smaller lettering below. One of his advertisements for new store openings incorporated a bull’s-eye design.

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Levi’s taps former Coach exec for VP design role

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco — Levi’s announced that it has named Walker MacWilliam as its new global head of men’s design. As VP design for the Levi’s brand, MacWilliam will be responsible for the design and development of all Levi’s men’s product categories globally.

MacWilliam joins Levi Strauss & Co. from Coach where his responsibilities included the conceptualization, design and development for all categories of men’s and women’s including wearables, bags and accessories.

"Walker brings incredible product design instincts and a creative and innovative spirit to the Levi’s brand," said Robert Hanson, president of the global Levi’s brand.

Prior to his leadership position at Coach, MacWilliam was creative director at Jack Spade where he was influential in the launch of Jack Spade and oversaw design, development, and merchandising as well as advertising and marketing. MacWilliam began his career at Polo Ralph Lauren where he was responsible for the launch of RRL in addition to having other senior design responsibilities. He has also held senior design positions with Club Monaco and Donna Karan International.

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