Here’s a question that involves national stereotypes. Who puts up with bad customer service with better grace: British or American consumers? It’s normal to think of brash, loud Americans and long-suffering, stiff-upper-lip Britons and draw a seemingly obvious conclusion.
Turns out…it’s not so obvious.
A recent study by UK company NewVoiceMedia found that its customers in the UK who are less tolerant and forgiving than their American cousins when it comes to rotten customer service experiences. This raises the stakes for British companies, particularly when you consider that the same research finds that British customers spend more prior to switching to a competitor. In essence, this means that UK businesses are losing twice as much as American companies each year for bad customer support. This doesn’t leave American companies off the hook: American consumers are twice as likely as British consumers to broadcast their lousy customer experiences through social media.
The study found that consumers in the UK are more likely to switch following a bad experience than those from the U.S. (50 percent versus 44 percent). We do have the same motivations however: customers on both sides of the Atlantic leave companies for the same reason, which is that they don’t feel appreciated by the companies with which they do business. In both nations, one of the biggest irritants is being kept on hold for too long (though British customers have a little more patience than Americans on this point.)
British customers are more likely to give a company a chance to make it up to them. In the UK, customers are far more likely to offer a written complaint to a company before switching to a competitor (58 percent versus 37 percent in the U.S.). Americans are more likely to ditch a company without explanation and then take to social media to air grievances. (About half of U.S. customers report doing this, compared to only 27 percent in the UK. In both nations, it’s women who are more likely to use social media to complain than men.)
“While UK consumers are more likely to leave a company following poor service than those from the U.S., they share the same frustrations – not feeling appreciated as a customer, being kept on hold and having to repeat themselves to multiple agents,” said Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia in a statement. “With so much revenue being transferred between companies, this research reinforces just how much influence customers have on a business’s success. Great customer service is the critical differentiator and investing in providing personalized and engaging customer experiences every time, through every channel, will help businesses succeed in retaining customers and securing new business.”
Regardless of which side of the Atlantic a company is located on (and many today are located on both sides), it’s vital that the company’s mission – to provide the best possible service to customers – is not forgotten. Whether the consumer drinks coffee or tea in the morning, he or she will drop a company that fails to truly value them…and let more than a few people know about it along the way.