American Express

American Express

August 09, 2011 11:54 ET

Australian Consumers Reveal Alarming Slip in Service Standards

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - Aug. 9, 2011) - Australian's perceptions of customer service standards have slipped behind much of the world with a startling seven percent year-on-year increase in the number of consumers who say businesses typically fail to meet their expectations, up from 32 percent in 2010.

This is one of a number of findings released today in The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer - a survey conducted in ten countries, exploring public attitudes and preferences towards customer service – and is a reminder to businesses of the importance of getting customer service right.

The Barometer reveals Australians place a greater premium on service than most. Seventy three percent of Australian consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides excellent service, third only to India and Mexico. The good news for businesses is that delivering good service pays dividends with Australian consumers willing to pay an average of 12 percent more when they receive excellent service – up from eight percent from last year which is a 50 percent increase.

"Customer attitudes towards service are changing. As the cost of living increases people expect a higher level of service for their hard earned money. Many companies do value service and deliver it exceptionally, so people know what's possible and are disappointed when they find it's the exception rather than the rule," said Christine Wakefield, Vice President of World Service for American Express.

Thirty three percent of Australian consumers say businesses pay less attention to giving good customer service in the current economy, the second highest result of all countries surveyed behind Italy. The Barometer also reveals that 25 percent of Australians believe companies take their business for granted and 10 percent say that companies don't seem to care about their business – this result has more than doubled from one year ago.

"It's simple. Providing great service can lead to business growth," continued Wakefield. "Consumers say they gravitate to companies that are investing in the customer experience and going beyond the basic transaction to recognise loyalty and ensure their customers get the most value for their money."

Brett Whitford, Executive Director of the Customer Service Institute of Australia said, "Training and developing frontline staff to deliver great service should be viewed as an investment in the long-term health of a business. Generally, delivering great service comes down to the small touches and showing interest in customers, asking how they are, recognising their custom and rewarding loyalty."

The credit card provider, American Express, is encouraging Australian businesses to place a renewed emphasis on delivering great service by sharing some valuable insights into a servicing philosophy it has rolled out globally called "Relationship Care (SM)".

"Relationship Care is all about fostering customer relationships rather than conducting transactions," explains Wakefield. "It's about responding in a personal way to who our customers are, discovering their needs and then delivering an outcome that surpasses all expectations."

According to American Express, the new approach is having outstanding results on customer satisfaction, which is measured through customer feedback. In fact, the number of customers who report they would recommend American Express to a friend has increased by approximately 20 percent from 2010.

"We are committed to exceeding people's expectations of customer service and it is our vision to become one of the world's most respected service brands," concluded Wakefield.

American Express' tips for delivering exceptional service using the principles of Relationship Care:

  1. Know your customer - Good service comes down to forming relationships with customers. For regular customers, get to know their likes, dislikes and purchasing behaviour so that you can enhance their experience with your business. For top customers look at how you can give extra special treatment.
  1. Make it easy for customers to do business with you – Listen to your customers and use their feedback to improve your product and service.
  1. Solve your customer's problems and strive to go above and beyond – A customer should never walk away feeling as though something has been left unresolved. Go out of your way to address the situation.
  1. Look for opportunities to make an impression - Understand and act on the notion that every customer interaction is an opportunity to create a connection and to drive customer loyalty and engagement.
  1. Invest in your frontline staff – Staff are the face of any business so ensure that your employees reflect the impression you want to leave on your customers. Remember a happy, motivated and well trained staff member is more likely to project their enthusiasm on customers than one who isn't.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer research was completed online among a random sample of 1,021 Australian consumers aged 18+. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research in February 2011. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95 percent level of confidence. The same survey methodology was used in Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the Netherlands, the US, and India.
  1. Attached separately is the market comparison data relating to this media release.

About American Express American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. The American Express service ethos, Relationship Care(SM), is designed to train Customer Care Professionals to not only respond to a customer's question or solve their problem, but go the extra step of offering the customer tailored information about how they can get more value out of their card and their relationship with American Express. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpressaustralia, www.twitter.com/americanexpress and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.

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