Americans are growing more frustrated with customer service, and their social media savvy is making it hard for businesses to get away with ignoring the problem, according to the 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer. It found that consumers who have used social media for service wield the greatest amount of influence. They tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they'd spend 21 percent more with companies who deliver great service — compared to 13 percent on average.
The survey, which was conducted in the U.S. and 10 other countries, also revealed a sorry state of service in general. Nine in 10 of Americans surveyed (93 percent) said that companies failed to exceed their service expectations. What's more, one out of two respondents (55 percent) walked away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience.
The most popular ways consumers address service inquiries continue to be speaking to a live representative (either on the phone or face-to-face), and through company website or e-mail. That said, one in five consumers (17 percent) said they've used social media at least once in the last year to obtain a customer service response, and this relatively small group of consumers is extremely engaged and vocal.
"Delivering outstanding service creates impassioned advocates and can serve as a powerful marketing weapon for companies," said Jim Bush, Executive VP of world service, American Express. "For example, consumers who have used social media for service in the last year are willing to pay a 21 percent premium at companies that provide great service. They also tell three times as many people about positive service experiences compared to the general population. Ultimately, getting service right with these social media savvy consumers can help a business grow."
Read more about consumer behavior.