Customer Experience News & Trends

Where is customer service best? (Hint: It’s not in the U.S.)

For companies that want to deliver world-class customer service, they’ll need to look beyond the U.S. borders for advice. Service is lagging stateside, new research has found.

The United States didn’t even make the top 10 in a customer satisfaction survey. It came in at No. 15, with 82% of consumers saying they’re satisfied with customer service across the country, according to a recent Zendesk survey.

At the top of list:

  • New Zealand (92%)
  • Canada (90%)
  • Norway (90%)
  • Australia, (89%), and
  • Denmark (89%).

While an 82% approval rating isn’t horrible, it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

“There may be more trouble ahead if the slide in customer satisfaction continues,” says Claes Fornell, chairman of the American Customer Satisfaction Institute (ACSI), which generates a quarterly gauge of satisfaction across a wealth of industries. “Dissatisfied customers who reduce or postpone are always a threat to short-term economic growth.”

Where things are right

So what are our colleagues down under and north of the border doing right these days — and what can we learn from them to reignite a love for customer service in the U.S.?

This is what’s most important to customers, according to research, and how you can deliver on them.

  1. Speed. More than 80% of customers say that having their issues resolved quickly is the number one factor in a great experience. Responsiveness starts with quickly answering customers when they contact you. Review customer contact history at least weekly to find out when and how customers contact you most. Schedule employees so customer calls are returned within a few minutes (the expectation most customers have), social media inquiries are answered almost immediately and email inquiries are answered within a half-hour.
  2. Courtesy. As many as 85% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience, a RightNow study found. They’ll go where people are nicest to them, and pay more for it. Genuine kindness and courtesy are as good of a gain-and-maintain-customer-satisfaction tactic as any. The key: allowing front-line employees the time to build rapport and care for customers, rather than just moving from transaction to transaction.
  3. Personalization. Almost three-quarters of the time customers decide to buy — and rank their experiences — based on how they feel they’re being treated. They want to feel like someone special or important, not just another number. The best way front-line pros can deliver on that: Let customers know they’re remembered. Refer to past customer experiences, preferences or personal information, all of which should be stored in customers’ account histories.

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