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How Much is Superior Service Worth to Customers?

How much is great customer service worth? About 13 percent, according to a recent survey from American Express. That survey found that about 70 percent of Americans said they would pay 13 percent more for a product or service if it came with superior customer service.

That 13 percent premium is the second-highest of the ten countries covered by the survey. In India, people said they were willing to pay a the biggest premium-22 percent-for better service. Shoppers in other countries-Australia, Canada, Mexico, U.K. France, Italy, Germany and Netherlands-were willing to pay between 7 and 12 percent more.

Other findings:

  • Americans seems more eager for decent service this year than they were a year ago. Last year, only 58 percent of people said they'd pay more for excellent service, and they were only willing to pay nine percent more to get it.
  • Bad service is definitely a business killer. More than three-quarters of those surveyed say they'd given up on a transaction or not made a purchase they'd planned to make because the company's service was so bad.
Are They Even Trying?
Despite their willingness to pay more for good service, many shoppers don't think companies take customer service problems seriously. They report:
  • Most companies seem to have inertia. Some 60 percent of survey respondents say companies haven't been doing anything to improve customer service
  • In some cases, service is getting worse. Some 26 percent of respondents say companies are actually paying less attention to service now than they were a year ago.
  • Shoppers feel unappreciated. More than one in five shoppers, or 22 percent, say companies take their business for granted.
  • Small businesses are the exception: 81 percent say small companies have better customer service than big ones.
Spreading the word
Survey respondents are surprisingly eager to spread the word when a company's service is bad.
  • Bad news travels fast. Respondents said they would tell sixteen people if a company's customer service was bad enough.
  • Good news travels too. On average, survey respondents said they would tell nine people about a positive customer service experience.
What can companies do to improve their customer service? Would you pay more for better service?


Image courtesy of flickr user Skype Nomad
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant. Follow her on twitter at
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