The SNEWS View: Customers spend more with good customer service…how good are you?

A recent survey conducted globally by American Express found that consumers will spend more in a store that provides excellent customer service. This news should be a wake-up call for every business. How good is your customer service? Do you really know?

A recent survey conducted globally by American Express found that consumers will spend more in a store that provides excellent customer service. In the U.S., it found customers will spend as much as 9 percent more per purchase. This news should be a wake-up call for every business. How good is your customer service? Do you really know? Recently, one shopper reported to a customer service blogger we read (and she had photographic proof) that the salesperson helping her was wearing a necklace that said in bright red letters, “You Suck.” Um, yeah, that would entice me to spend more money in that store…how about you?

Another recent thread in LinkedIn addressed the topic of good customer service, with one expert saying good customer service is simply common sense. We could not disagree more because what commonly makes sense to one generation or culture makes no sense to another. Customer service in a store MUST be taught, trained and continually emphasized by management to be the most important skill a salesperson masters. The “You Suck” necklace should be proof enough of that -- the salesperson likely thought it was funny, and of no consequence to her level of customer service. The problem in that store is customer service is not managed or trained, it is likely simply assumed.

Consider that 61 percent of U.S. consumers reported in the American Express survey that quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment.

And yet, the findings of the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer indicate only slightly more than one-third of U.S. consumers (37 percent) believe that companies have increased their focus on providing quality service. A whopping 27 percent feel businesses have not changed their attitude toward customer service, and an even more stunning 28 percent say that companies are now paying less attention to good service. Talk about opportunity knocking!

It gets better. Nine in ten Americans (91 percent) consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company. But just 24 percent said they believe companies value their business and will go the extra mile to keep it. Most consumers feel businesses can do more to retain their loyalty. Forty-eight percent feel companies are helpful but don’t do anything extra to keep their business, and 21 percent believe that companies take their business for granted. Let’s hope no outdoor or fitness industry companies are among that 21 percent!

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the American Express survey found that customers are more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one. Three-quarters (75 percent) are very likely to speak positively about a company after a good service experience in contrast with a still very significant 59 percent who are very likely to speak negatively about a company after poor service. According to the survey, excellent customer service experiences also carry more weight than bad ones when U.S. consumers make future spending decisions. Consumers are far more likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience (81 percent) compared to never doing business with a company again after a poor experience (52 percent).

Still, despite that positive news, it is also important to acknowledge the power of online postings and blogs in influencing purchasing decisions -- especially if the postings are negative. Forty-eight percent of consumers report always or often using an online posting or blog to get others’ opinions about a company’s customer service reputation. And, get this, when those consumers go online, they’re looking for “watch outs,” saying they put greater credence in negative reviews on blogs (57 percent) and social networking sites (48 percent) than on positive ones.

So I ask…how much time are you spending on training your staff to ensure excellent customer service experiences for every customer? Is your staff trained to ensure your customers are delighted to be in your store, whether they are browsing, buying, exchanging or returning a product? The cost of not providing good customer service is alarmingly high -- especially if that customer talks about their experience in your store online. The return on investment by providing excellent customer experiences, though, is so very high, and best of all, your customers will likely start spending more money. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

--Michael Hodgson



The SNEWS View: Flat-out good service makes a shop special

My boyfriend was traveling from New York to Augusta, Ga., for work, when he got a flat tire -- and he called me at home in Montana to help him out. Although it may seem odd to expect me to help change a tire thousands of miles away, it wasn’t any ordinary flat tire. Bill’s in a more


SNEWS Reader Poll: Glimpse at how stores view customer buying motivation

The SNEWS® Mini Survey that ended June 15, 2009 asked, “What do you feel most motivates your customers to buy from your store?” We asked retailers to select from a list of 20 categories the top five motivating factors they believed drove customers to buy from them and not more


The SNEWS View: Halloween shopping experience is frighteningly good

Although Halloween is a time of horror, ghosts and trick-or-treat, one retail store turned a shopping expedition into a real eye-opening treat. Performance Studios ( is a truly impressive costume shop in downtown Nashville, Tenn. It occupies a large more


The SNEWS View: Sandwich and salad…with a side of thank you

Down the street from where I work is an independently owned deli sandwich shop that’s been open for close to a year. The storefront was previously part of the Quiznos chain and I remember those workers out on the street handing out coupons trying to solicit business. Then one more


The SNEWS View: Campfire tales raise customer eyebrows

This spring, I joined several friends on a weekend car-camping trip at an Idaho state park. It was one of those casual get-togethers where you set up a base camp of trailers and tents, then frolic in the lake and on the trails during the day and lounge by the campfire at night. more

The art of great customer service, challenging employee performance and more from the 2005 OIA Rendezvous

Our 2005 OIA Rendezvous coverage continues with summaries from four more of the 12 seminars (SNEWS® covered three in last week's edition -- read by going to:, each taken from our reporters' notebooks. This week, we focus on more


The SNEWS View: How do we unplug today’s kids?

I’m a little worried about today’s kids. Sure, I’ve heard how plugged in they are to electronics, video games, cell phones, etc., but I’ve never really had that much first-hand experience with the issue…until recently.  I spent some time with old friends who have a 7-year-old more


The SNEWS View: Home Depot service snafu

I tend to be a pretty nice shopper, particularly to clerks who I know are just hired hands and likely aren’t even being paid very much. That is, until somebody isn’t nice to me. Then all guns come out a-blazin’. That’s what happened the other day at Home Depot. The problem arose more

Oops! file: Schwinn blows customer service call

In the course of conducting business, we experience first-hand, or receive from readers, stories that deserve a place in what we lovingly call the "Oops File." It's a place where you really don't want to see your name or company name appear. These are the type of incidents -- more