UK consumers less tolerant to poor service than US counterparts

Feb. 26, 2014

New research from NewVoiceMedia reveals that U.K. consumers are less tolerant to poor customer service than those in the U.S.. Coupled with findings that they spend more prior to switching to a competitor, U.K. businesses are losing twice as much as American companies each year. But service should remain a top priority for U.S. firms, as Americans are twice as likely to tell others about a bad experience.

According to the study, $41 billion of revenue is transferred between companies in the U.S. every year and £12 billion in the U.K. due to bad interactions — not including the significant cost of replacing lost customers and the impact of negative word of mouth. On average 48 percent of consumers are taking their business elsewhere because they’re not satisfied with the service they’re experiencing.

U.K. consumers are more likely to switch following a bad experience than those from the U.S. (50 percent vs 44 percent), but in both nations, the majority leave because they don’t feel appreciated as a customer. In the U.S., 53 percent are so put off from calling a company for fear of not being able to speak to a real person straight away; they may switch to a competitor without even attempting to resolve a problem. In the U.K., being kept on hold is the biggest irritation (49 percent), although Brits are actually prepared to hold for longer than U.S. consumers, with only 16 percent claiming they would hang up after five minutes of holding, compared with 22 percent of Americans. The results of both studies also indicate that women are far more patient than men.

Voice continues to be the channel of choice for customers, but particularly in the U.S. where it’s nearly twice as popular as email. Both regions combined, 71 percent consider it to be the most effective channel for a speedy resolution.

While U.K. consumers are more prone to switching, they’re also the most likely to offer the business an opportunity to resolve the issue by writing to complain (58 percent U.K., 37 percent U.S.). Across the Atlantic, consumers are much less forgiving, with half eager to spread the word, (compared with 27 percent U.K.) advising friends and colleagues not to use the company. In both regions, women are more likely to complain than men.

U.S. customers are the most likely to take complaints online, particularly those aged 25 to 34, with nearly 60 percent (59.3 percent) spreading negative sentiment through social media, forums or review channels following poor service.

However, the significance consumers place on excellent service presents opportunities as well as threats, as organizations can boost their business if they invest in providing a positive customer experience, even turning complainants into advocates by prioritizing the service they receive through other channels. 72 percent of respondents said that good service had a considerable influence on their loyalty and 70 percent would recommend the company to others. U.S. customers are more likely to spend more money with the business as a result (42 percent vs. 34 percent U.K.). Overall, good service influences women more than men, with women more likely to recommend the business to others.

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Customer Service , Employee Training

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