In a recent survey that evaluated Barbadian consumers’ attitudes towards customer service, 26% of respondents stated that they would definitely pay more to ensure better service, while an additional 58% of respondents stated that they would consider paying more to ensure better service. Combined, these results suggest that a total of 84% would at least consider paying more to companies who delivered superior customer service. Of those who stated that they would pay more for better service, almost 80% suggested that they would be willing to pay an additional 5% to 25%.
The survey’s insights should be encouraging news for companies who are willing to elevate customer service as a major driver of their business strategy. But these results don’t necessarily mean that businesses should just adopt a premium pricing policy without taking a long, hard look at the level of customer experience they provide. Why? Because companies that provide poor (or mediocre) service at high price points will almost certainly face a backlash from consumers. The same study revealed that 53% of Barbadian consumers have stopped doing business with a company after just one bad experience, while a whopping 95% reported that they have stopped doing business with a company after multiple bad experiences.
However, according to the study, while a significant number of consumers are likely to switch to a competing brand due to poor service, they are far less likely to register their dissatisfaction with the management of companies providing the poor service. Approximately one in six respondents (15.7%) reported that they never complain about receiving poor customer service, while an additional 27.9% of respondents “very rarely” voice their concerns to the management of companies that may have delivered the poor service. In other words, dissatisfied customers may be “leaving brands without saying goodbye”. This trend of unhappy consumers switching brands without lodging complaints may lead to an exodus of unhappy customers before the organisation even realises it has a customer service issue on its hands.
Clearly, companies who are thinking about using customer service to justify employing a premium pricing policy should be cautious – especially if they equate a lack of complaints with providing good customer service.
The study was carried out by Barbados-based Antilles Economics, a research firm that enables organisations to make fact-based decisions, and by Blueprint Creative, one of Barbados’ leading branding agencies. Ron Johnson, Managing Director of Blueprint Creative, said that based on the results of the study, Barbadian businesses should include customer service as a key component of their overall brand strategy, since these companies will have a stronger chance of outmaneuvering their competitors. He also noted that companies with high levels of employee engagement are generally in a better position to offer great customer service than companies with disruptive, divisive or disengaged company environments.
“Great branding isn’t only about clever advertising campaigns,” he said. “It’s also about maintaining high levels of employee engagement and offering the best possible levels of customer service. The results of the survey suggest that businesses who ignore the importance of customer experience will be at a disadvantage when it comes to Barbadian consumers.”
The Antilles Economics/Blueprint Creative survey was carried out online between the months of April and May 2015. You can read the study’s preliminary report here.