Consumers willing to pay more for good service

Helsinki's Vanha kauppahalliA recent survey conducted by American Express shows Americans demanding better customer service as compared to last year. Statistics showed 70 percent of consumers willing to spend 13 percent more for “WOW” service as compared to 2010 when only 55 percent of consumers were only willing to spend 9 percent more.

Jim Bush, executive vice-president for American Express World Service stated:

“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must-do. 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 a personal comparison between credit cards, the American Express Platinum Card customer service far exceeds any other upscale credit card I have in my possession. There are comparatively little computer generated obstacles to overcome before touching base with a live representative, and each customer experience is handled with professionalism and that personal touch is so important when large organizations have to try extra hard to stay connected to their clients and customers. Other premium credit cards from Bank America or Barclay do provide several perks, however their customer service departments are much more mechanical and in several instances have transferred me to other representatives. An admirable asset of American Express customer service; the agent a consumer speaks with “owns that problem” until it is resolved.

The general discontent among consumers show that many businesses just haven’t picked up the pace for customer service, and many have scaled down because of the state of the economy. Perhaps that is the worst choice any business can make at this time, because statistics also show that a great majority of consumers have backed out of purchases because of poor service.

In an even broader arena of consumer unhappiness are the problems with airlines slowly inching up their prices despite an obvious lag in travel. Airlines are trying to win customers back with all kinds of great deals, but the quality of customer service is so disappointing that travelers are asking for federal government intervention. Imagine that? Consumers want plain language for disclosing fees to make it possible to compare airfares and optional fees, a consumer complaint hotline, and require airlines to email or send text notifications of flight statuses.

Sure, customers are now regarded as high-maintenance, but isn’t it about time that we all get to feel we’re truly getting our money’s worth and being treated as valued consumers?

photo credit: La Citta Vita

5 Responses to “Consumers willing to pay more for good service”

  1. Sarah Hedayati said:

    Aug 15, 11 at 2:12 pm

    Great article, Cheryl! I’ve been doing research on whether customer experience or price matter more. Your statistics are awesome and I’m glad to see others are talking about this topic. I also agree that businesses cutting back on customer service is one of the worst things they can do. Customer service is one of the most important things businesses need to invest in if they want customers at all.

  2. Cheryl said:

    Aug 15, 11 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you Sarah. I agree; in my own experience, I am much more amenable to spending more money for excellent service.

  3. AprilS said:

    Aug 18, 11 at 9:42 am

    I have noticed this trend as well. As a customer, I have found myself going to places that cost a little bit more because I know the customer service is really great. Companies keep trying to find ways to cut customer service or cheaper ways to provide it and it’s going to backfire in the long run. While many people will put up with poor customer service, most will look for another company.

  4. Joe Roselle said:

    Aug 30, 11 at 11:37 am

    Customers are not and never will be high-maintenance. They are “whatever” maintenance. Customers are not the enemy. You’re not trying to win a battle with them. Unfortunately, this is the mentality that is too prevelant. I know from my many years experience owning and operating a retail store that customers will indeed pay extra for service. As long as your pricing is fair and the customer is treated with respect, you’ll keep the majority satisfied and coming back. When you respect your customers, they trust you. Trust is the most important concept to establish in selling. Trust puts you 90% of the way home in a selling situation. The customer is THE most important part of your business..period. Take this statement to the bank: If you treat your customers with true customer service, the sales and loyality will take care of itself.

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