Small business leading the customer service stakes

In the eyes of customers, it’s small businesses that are winning the service stakes, with over 81 percent reporting a belief that SMEs place more emphasis on looking after customers than do large businesses.

According to The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, Australian consumers are more likely to reveal their poor customer service frustrations widely among their social circle, with reports of bad service outstripping good experiences by more than two to one. 65 percent always tell others about a bad experience, coming second only to Mexican consumers.

Australians will tell an average of 23 people about bad service compared to the ten people who will hear about a good experience.

The research also found that poor service creates lasting brand damage, with Australia ranking highest for those who said a bad experience has the greatest impact on their impression of a company’s brand.

American Express Head of Small Business Services Jason Fryer said small businesses should take special note of the results.

Delivering good customer service is particularly important for small businesses because unlike larger businesses, each customer lost through poor service has an immediate impact on the bottom line.

Fryer suggests small business take time to get to know their customers, to better gauge their satisfaction levels.

“Gaining a better understanding of the customer and how service levels can be improved will help business owners manage the reputation of their company and could potentially save them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.”

American Express has the following tips for ensuring small businesses deliver a positive customer experience:

  • Get to know your customer so you have an understanding of their satisfaction levels. Remember that knowing your customer can lead to better customer loyalty;
  • Listen to your customer – ask for their feedback and act on it;
  • Create a culture that focuses on good customer service – ensure that your staff understand the importance of good customer service and reward those that demonstrate it;
  • Continual contact and follow-up with customers – so that they understand your commitment to them and feel their feedback is valued;
  • Incorporate customer service strategies into the business and marketing plan so that customer service is central to everything you do; and
  • Be efficient – not doing what you have promised customers will guarantee poor levels of customer satisfaction.