1-in-3 Consumers Would Walk Away After One Bad Experience

A third of consumers would not give a firm a second chance after a single bad experience, a survey by accountancy software company Sage UK has found.

The Sage survey of 2,000 UK consumers found that 30 per cent would not tolerate even one incident of bad service. Nearly half of the respondents (47 per cent) said that tight economic conditions meant they were placing a greater value on customer service.

But just 22 per cent felt UK businesses were making the effort to go the extra mile for customers during the downturn – and almost a quarter of consumers said businesses were actually making less effort to provide a good customer experience.

Derek Williams, founder of the WOW! Awards for customer service, said that small businesses were feeling the pinch of poor economic conditions. Firms were being forced to cut back, while consumers were being more cautious about spending and expecting more for their money.

“Businesses are under pressure,” he added. “The general public are under pressure. Inflation is going up, energy prices are going through the roof, people can’t sell their homes, they can’t borrow money. Businesses are trying to maintain their service levels even though they are under enormous cost pressures.”

Sage UK’s head of customer service for accountants division, Gary Young, pointed out that ecommerce was changing the degree of tolerance customers have for poor service.

“People can spend much more easily than ever before,” he said. “Businesses have to be really mindful of their customer walking out of their virtual door and walking through another virtual door within 30 seconds.

“I think customers are expecting businesses to work just that little bit harder in terms of the simple things,” he added. “The survey found that lots of people just expect a friendly smile and a bit of understanding, but customers might feel they’re not getting enough of that. People are being a bit more cautious and maybe a bit less tolerant of the things they don’t get.”

Williams pointed out that businesses were taking the challenge of delivering good customer service seriously. He said reacting positively to complaints was essential.

“There’s an Ipsos Mori survey that found that 72 per cent of customers who have a complaint resolved to their satisfaction are more loyal than before,” he said.

“The interesting thing is that we might actually get some good things coming out of it, such as leaner, better service levels and more efficient businesses. But it’s a hell of a price to pay.”

Sage UK has launched the Extra Mile campaign to recognise UK businesses that are providing strong customer service. Customers simply have to nominate businesses on Twitter using the #extramile hashtag for a public display of thanks from Sage.

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