Consumers: ‘Businesses Are Meeting/Exceeding Our Customer Service Expectations’

Woman on phone at call center

NEW YORK – U.S. consumers appear to be satisfied with how businesses are handling customer service. 

The “2017 Customer Service Barometer” from American Express says U.S. consumers are happier than ever with the service they’re getting, and that businesses are “meeting or exceeding” their customer service expectations.

A full 81 percent of Americans report that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations for service, compared to 67 percent in 2014. What’s more, 40 percent say businesses have increased their focus and attention on service. In 2014, that number was just 29 percent.

Raymond Joabar, executive vice president of American Express’ servicing organization, says more companies are realizing that delivering great care is not just the right thing to do, it also makes great business sense. 

Joabar adds that 70 percent of U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service. “Service is an increasingly important competitive advantage for companies, both large and small, that make doing business easy and put their customers’ needs first,” he says.

Americans continue to reward companies that get service right. Consumers say they’re willing to spend 17 percent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14 percent in 2014. As a group, millennials are willing to spend the most for great care (21 percent additional), followed by men (19 percent).

But there’s another side to that coin, too: poor service is costing companies. More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service, and 33 percent say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. 

AmEx says digital servicing options and improved person-to-person care are helping to drive improved satisfaction. More than two-thirds of those surveyed (68 percent) said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62 percent said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.

Other takeaways for businesses looking to improve their service include:

  • Deliver service on the customer’s timeline. Customers want their needs cared for quickly (40 percent). This could mean allowing customers to find answers themselves through digital options and making it easier to connect with a knowledgeable professional.
  • Earn the advocacy of customers via positive word of mouth. This is especially true for millennials, so companies should make sure they can take care of younger Americans the way they want to be served. For example, millennials are twice as likely as the general population to prefer self-service for simple inquiries.
  • Make the connection. While most Americans still prioritize service that gets the job done, the personal connection matters – 81 percent say that getting a satisfactory answer is a very important part of servicing satisfaction, and 74 percent want a knowledgeable professional. But nearly half also say that personalized service (47 percent) and appreciation for them as a customer (45 percent) are very important.