Consumers Bail If Service Is Bad (...duh)

According to the 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer consumers who have used social media for service tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they’d spend 21% more with companies who deliver great service, compared to 13% on average.

The survey reveals a sorry state of service in general, pointing that 93% of Americans surveyed say that companies fail to exceed their service expectations, while 55% walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience. 

Jim Bush, Executive Vice President, World Service, American Express, says “... delivering outstanding service creates impassioned advocates and can serve as a powerful marketing weapon for companies...”

People who have used social media for customer service at least once in the last year are willing to spend substantially more with companies they believe provide great service. They are also far more vocal about service experiences, both good and bad.  In addition, more than 80% of these consumers say they’ve bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55% overall.

Consumer Attitudes About Customer Service

Service Topic

Consumers  Who Haven’t Used Social Media for Customer Service

General Population

Consumers Who Have Used Social Media for Customer Service 

Additional amount consumers are willing to spend for excellent service

11% more

13% more

21% more

Have not completed an intended purchase because of a poor customer service experience in the past year




Number of people consumers will tell about good customer service experiences

9 people

15 people

42 people

Number of people consumers will tell about bad customer service experiences

17 people

24 people

53 people

Source: AmericanExpress, May 2012

The “Social Top 5” activities for Americans who have used social media for customer service: 

  • 50% Seek an actual response from a company about a service
  • 48% Praise a company for a great service experience
  • 47%Share information about your service experience with a wider audience
  • 46%Vent frustration about a poor service experience
  • 43% Ask other users how to have better service experiences

However, 60% of this group feels companies have improved their response times through social media over the past year.

Social media is not the only way people are spreading the word about their customer service experiences, says the report. The general population will tell significantly more people about their customer service experiences than in 2011, highlighting the importance for businesses of treating every customer interaction as an opportunity to build customer loyalty and a positive brand image.

  • Americans will tell an average of 15 people about positive experiences, up 67% from 9 last year
  • Americans will tell an average of 24 people about poor experiences, up 50% from 16 in 2011 

According to the report, 61% of Americans feel companies have not increased their focus on providing better service, and of this group, 32% feel businesses are paying lessattention to providing good customer service, an increase from 2011.

35% of respondents report that they have lost their temper with a service professional in the past year.  When asked about the top customer service irritants most likely to lead them to switch brands in 2012, 79% cited one of these “Big Four Gripes”:

  • Rudeness:  An insensitive or unresponsive customer service representative, 33%
  • Passing the Buck:  Being shuffled around with no resolution of the issue, 26%
  • The Waiting Game:  Waiting too long to have an issue resolved, 10%
  • Being Boomeranged:  Forced to continually follow up on an issue, 10% 

The average consumer hits his or her boiling point after 13 minutes on hold, creating a golden opportunity for companies to increase customer satisfaction by beating the clock.  Similarly, Americans will wait an average of 12 minutes for in-person help at establishments such as banks, retail stores or restaurants.

The report includes tips for delivering better service, and may be found here


1 comment about "Consumers Bail If Service Is Bad (...duh)".
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  1. Donna Cowan from Online Scene Solutions, May 15, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.

    Thought this was an interesting article. Thanks-

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