Americans will spend more for good customer service: study

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Shoppers will spend an average of 9 percent more when they believe a company provides excellent service. So say the results of a study released today by American Express.

The three most influential factors when deciding to do business with a company is 1) personal experience, 2) a company's reputation or brand; and 3) recommendations from family and/or friends, according to survey results..

Good service experiences carry more weight than bad ones when Americans make future spending decisions, according to the survey. Consumers are likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience (81 percent of respondents) than they are to sever ties with a company after having a poor experience (52 percent of respondents).

Alas, only about a third of Americans believe that companies have increased their efforts to provide quality customer service; 27 percent feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service, and 28 percent say companies are actually paying less attention to good service than they were before.

"Many consumers say companies haven't done enough to improve their approach to service in this economy, and yet it's clear they're willing to spend more with those that deliver excellent service," says Jim Bush, executive vice president, World Service. This suggests "substantial growth opportunities" for businesses that get customer service right, he notes.

The findings were released today in the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in the United States and 11 other countries exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service.

Even though nine in 10 Americans consider customer service important when deciding to do business with a company, not many of them trust businesses to acknowledge it. More than 75 percent of consumers don't believe companies value their business enough to go the proverbial extra mile for it, according to the survey.

That's too bad, because according to the study, customers are now more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one. That goes against popular thought that bad reviews travel faster than good ones. Three-quarters of the survey respondents said they are "very likely" to speak positively about a company after a good service experience,  while 59 percent said they would probably speak negatively about a company after experiencing poor service.

Consumers indicated that they're more forgiving of a bad experience if a company has earned their trust over time.  Eighty-six percent said they're willing to give a company a second chance if they've historically experienced great customer service with that business.

But companies who get it wrong will pay: Consumers expect something in return after a poor customer service experience beyond merely resolving the problem, according to the survey. Seventy percent of respondents say they want an apology or some form of reimbursement.

Information courtesy American Express and BusinessWire. Posted by Mary Slepicka