Is Customer Service Better in the Great Recession?

by Barry Moltz on August 10, 2010

Does the Great Recession bring out better customer service?  The logical answer is yes, since there are fewer customer dollars being chased by the same number of companies.

According to a report released by American Express in July (and reported in Brandweek) apparently not much has changed in customer service during the economic downturn.  While 62% said that customer service is very important especially in this economy, only 24% feel that the companies treat them that way.

The key point for companies to keep in mind is that great service doesn’t come down to what a company thinks about its performance or its own notions of what its consumers think,” says Jim Bush, Executive VP, world service at American Express.  “It’s all about … what the customer thinks after every interaction.”  This is similar to how I define customer service in BAM!: Whatever the customer says it is on a particular day and instant.  Because customer service is ever-changing from time to time and person to person, it is especially difficult to achieve.

The survey also stated that 75% of people look at price compared to value when deciding to do business with a company.  But, 65% stated that the top factor in deciding to do business with a company was customer service!

American Express also states that customers are looking for the big hug.  “We do think consumers are looking for more engagement from the companies they work with…” says Bush.  “We are increasingly hiring customer-care professionals from nontraditional call-center backgrounds, like hospitality, who know how to build strong and lasting relationships with customers.”

What are the factors that customers look for when interacting with customer service?  On top of the list is knowledge, courtesy and attentivenessNotice that solving their problem is not high on the list!  Most customers just want to be listened to and empathized with.  Most customers realize that their problem is not likely to be solved quickly and completely.  If companies will train their people in these 3 skills, it will go a long way to having satisfied and profitable customers.

What steps is your company taking to give your customers a big hug?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily Brackett August 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

It does seem to be the great irony: We all complain about poor customer service, but how many give it? As we walk through life most of are in a position to both give and receive service, and we too often see the downside in others, but then deflect the criticism when it is of our selves.

In terms of the recession, many people are stressed out and on edge because of financial worry. That is why they need a big hug. That’s also why they can’t seem to handle one more thing, which is why they don’t give the hug back to their own clients.

Barry Moltz August 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

I love it Emily! What a great irony!

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