Consumer patience for poor customer service is evaporating with a third of Britons willing to ditch companies after just one poor experience, according to research conducted by analytics firm SAS. A further 90% of customers would vote with their feet after two to five poor experiences, indicating that a well of sympathy and understanding borne by Covid-19 is draining fast.
Consumers are less forgiving than ever
The findings were informed by an online questionnaire of 10,000 adults across Europe, the Middle East and Africa conducted in August by 3Gem.
Businesses wishing to keep their customers sweet can no longer rely solely on price according to the report, which identifies customer experience and service to be vital attributes.
A clear majority (59%) professed themselves to be willing to pay more for products and services provided they continue to enjoy a positive customer experience during the pandemic.
Consumers have also become less price-conscious with the proportion placing price in their top three factors for a good customer experience falling from 61 to 54% since the outbreak.
The difficulty arises in pinning down precisely what people mean by ’customer service’ with cited factors spanning everything from price to convenience.
The report identified five factors which play a role with 25% citing flexible returns and refunds; 32% prioritised responsive customer support and 46% favoured prominent and clear labelling of prices and discounts.
A further 29% of responders valued companies which behaved responsibly and 38% were drawn to convenience.
Room for improvement
Amid coronavirus chaos, 25% of customers have observed an improvement in their own customer experience since lockdown.11% turning to digital services and apps for the first time; 58% intended to continue doing so.
Customer expectations still run ahead of actual services provided, however, and 11% observed a decline in service since lockdown.
Tiffany Carpenter, head of customer intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland, remarked: “With customer needs differing so wildly from one customer to the next, combined with their lack of patience for companies offering poor experiences and customer service, this tells businesses one thing: they must start recognising customers as individuals and tailor the experiences they deliver accordingly.”