How Good Is Your Customer Service?
What’s the state of customer service in America? Given all the attention this topic generates in a consumer-driven marketplace, you probably don’t need to read the following statistics—but to make a point, we’re going to tell you anyway.
• A March 2006 study released by JupiterResearch reported that more than half of online consumers are taking their business to other merchants or service providers because of poor online service. Ouch!
• The Customer Care Call Center Survey, research conducted over the course of 2005 by Ernan Roman Direct Marketing and based on the feedback of a few hundred direct marketing industry professionals and college students, found that nearly two-thirds of respondents rated their recent customer service call center experience to be negative or neutral.
• The Customer Care Call Center Survey also reported that 83 percent indicated that a negative customer service experience would damage their perception of the company in question and 72 percent would reconsider making a purchase from the company in the future.
In case you’re thinking these issues pertain only to outsourced customer service, think again. Ernan Roman Direct Marketing’s research determined that more than one-third of respondents reported that reaching an in-house call center had no influence on how callers perceived their experience—in-house isn’t automatically equated with better service.
The main irritants cited by these survey respondents—long wait times and slow problem resolution—come as no surprise to Mitch Lieber, principal of Lieber & Associates, a call center management, metrics and technology consulting firm in Chicago. When it comes to service levels, he explains, all performance metrics have to do with how long customers have to wait when contacting a company for help.
More effective service is good for customers, but it’s also good for direct marketers, too. “The most efficient use of sales dollars for a company is in its customer service department,” says Lieber. “You want to plug your leaky bucket, so it costs less to keep the customers you have than to go out and acquire more.”