By Thea O’Hear

New research reveals just how powerful good and bad reports of customer service are when it comes to UK consumers choosing where to spend their hard earned cash. A new survey out today reveals that over 80% of consumers tell their friends, family and associates about their good or bad customer experiences, with three times as many (25.2%) relaying bad experiences, over good (8.4%). With nearly 100% of respondents saying bad customer service would compel them to take their business elsewhere the implications for UK businesses are clear.

Continuing their campaign to champion best practice when it comes to customer service, the Consumer Forum quizzed thousands of customers on everything from their online retailing experience to which brands they rate and what services they hate. Further key findings include:

What is Good Customer Service?

• When asked what constitutes ‘good customer service’, nearly two-thirds (60.9%) of respondents said that a personal response to their issue was most important, while 44.3% cited speed of response as an important factor.

• The majority of respondents (57.6%) felt that the best customer service is delivered in face to face situations, while 56.9% said that they receive the worst customer service over the phone.

• When asked what drives them to make a complaint, nearly a third (31.7%) of respondents answered ‘rude staff’. Delivering great customer service: worth the hassle?

• When asked whether a good customer service experience would increase their loyalty to a brand 98.4% of respondents said ‘yes’.

• 97.7% of respondents said that experiencing bad customer service would compel them to take their business elsewhere.
The internet: delivering innovations in customer service?

• Consumers surveyed remain split down the middle when it comes to the levels of customer service offered online. 49% of respondents have seen an improvement in customer service since the introduction of the internet whilst 51% have experienced a decline.

• Yet surprisingly, nearly a third (31.5%) voted online customer service as being the best, twice as many as those who cited over the phone offerings (15.5%).

• When asked to give an example of excellent customer service online brands Amazon and Ebay were frequently referenced, with John Lewis and Marks & Spencer regularly cited as popular high-street retail brands. On reviewing these results, LOVEFiLM CEO and Consumer Forum founder member Simon Calver comments:

"These results provide a fascinating insight into what makes UK consumers want to spend and what makes them want to scream. Most significantly, these findings consolidate the link between great customer service and business productivity. They show that if customers are treated badly, they will simply go elsewhere."

"What’s interesting is the huge proportion of respondents that will feedback on their experiences — positive and negative - to family and friends. The creation of the Forum is about creating a platform to exchange this kind of feedback, but with the ear of businesses themselves. Essentially, we want to encourage an information flow — between consumers and businesses - that will improve our businesses and make the consumer experience better. That some consumers still don’t expect any customer service at all from online retailers is shocking and just shows the need to start a dialogue."