Social Media Raises The Stakes For Customer Service In India

~ Indians reward outstanding service by spending more and spreading the word~

Indians are far ahead of their Asian counterparts in the use of social media to get customer service response from companies. 71% Indians have used social media at least once in the past one year for customer service, more than twice that of Japan (29%) and ahead of Hong Kong (50%), as per the findings of the American Express® Customer Service Barometer released today.

The American Express Customer Service Barometer, an annual survey conducted in India and two other countries, also found that people in India are more willing than Japan and Hong Kong to reward companies with both business and loyalty for quality service and end relationship due to poor service.

According to the survey, top 5 reasons for which Indian consumers use social media on customer service:

  • Sharing information about service experience– 56%

  • Asking other users how to get better service – 50%

  • Praising a Company for great service experience – 47%

  • Seeking an actual response from a Company about a service issue – 47%

  • Seeking recommendations from others about good service providers – 45%

“Today’s networked consumers are demanding engagement, personalization, and prompt response from image003 (9)the companies they deal with across multiple channels. They also wield a lot of influence because they spend more for great service and share their opinions widely. Ultimately, these consumers drive business growth,” Mr. Pradeep Kapur, Senior Vice President& GM, World Service, Asia Pacific & Head – Global Process Excellence, American Express, said.

Companies are Responsive
According to the survey, nearly nine-in-ten consumers in India (88%) feel companies have improved in how often they respond over social media channels. However four-in-ten (41%) consumers who have used social media for customer service inquiries say they always get an answer or have their complaint resolved, but half (50%) say it is resolved only sometimes. Fewer than half as many in Japan (12%) or Hong Kong (18%) report receiving similar service all the time. Japanese consumers are the least likely to have their issue resolved via this channel (34%, rarely/never).

Excellent service means more business
Businesses in India can reap the most rewards by providing excellent service, as 78% of consumers have spent more with a company that delivers positive customer service experiences. The survey also indicates that this trend is picking up as 89% of Indian customers have expressed willingness to spend 22% more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service as against 55% willing to spend 10% more in Japan and 65% willing to spend 12% more in Hong Kong.

American Express cardmembers confirm the findings of the survey customers by voting with their wallets. Globally, service promoters, or customers who are highly satisfied with their service interactions, spend 16% more on their American Express cards than those who aren’t. American Express primarily measures customer service satisfaction by asking customers how likely they are to recommend American Express based on a service experience.

“We try to make every interaction an opportunity to deepen the relationship with the customer. That’s what our Relationship Care® brand of service is all about, Mr. Kapur added. “Globally, our Recommend to a Friend scores are at all-time high because of the customer care delivered by our award-winning team.”

Everybody’s talking about service
While 49% Indian consumers say they always tell others about their poor service experiences, an even greater number (66%) say they talk about their good service experiences. Nearly all consumers talk about their good customer service experiences, at least some of the time (98%) but when it comes to poor customer service experiences, nearly nine in ten (86%) consumers talk about them. On average, Indians tell 39 people about their good experiences, and are slightly more vocal about their bad experiences, telling 42 people.

“In an environment where recommendations from a friend are so important in driving a consumer’s purchasing decisions, creating good service experiences is extremely important. A happy customer might tell a friend but an unhappy one will tell everyone. Unless a business understands its customers genuinely, it cannot serve them well”, Mr. Kapur said.

Customers want choice in how they connect with companies
As per the survey, consumers want choice in how they want to reach out to companies for any service requests and the preferred channel for customer service depends on the complexity of the inquiry. For simple issues, Indian consumers prefer going online (17%) – via a company website or email, Japan (34%) tops the list with Hong Kong (23%) following behind.

For a more complex inquiry, such as returning a product or getting assistance with a product issue, consumers in all markets prefer speaking with a real person on the phone – mentioned by greater than one-third in Hong Kong (37%) and Japan (36%), but significantly fewer in India (22%). In Japan, a ‘company website or email’ is the next preferred (22%).

When it comes to difficult or complicated inquiries such as making a complaint or disputing a charge, speaking with a real person either on the phone or face-to-face is preferred by most in all markets. Consumers in India (22%) and Japan (44%) most prefer speaking with a real person on the phone, while those in Hong Kong most prefer face-to-face (37%).

“Relationship Care doesn’t start when the phone rings”, Mr. Kapur said. “It means understanding your customers’ preferences and enabling them to connect with your company in ways that are most relevant and convenient for them so they can resolve their queries.”

The cost of bad customer service
Poor service can lead to lost sales. In the past year, nearly three in four (73%) Indian consumers intended to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase, but decided not to due to a poor service experience – this is a slight increase over 2014 and 2012 (71%).

Consumers are generally willing to give companies a chance to make up for a bad service experience. While most consumers are willing to give a company at least one more chance after receiving poor service before they consider switching, one-third (33%) immediately consider switching after the initial poor customer service experience.

Takeaways for great customer service
Given how customers are rewarding outstanding service more than ever, American Express offers the following tips to companies seeking to bolster the service experiences they provide:

Cherish your connections with customers. Service shouldn’t be a clean-up operation. Turning service interactions into meaningful relationship-deepening moments can strengthen your business.

  • In everything you do, put the customer first. Start with what the customer needs. Customers can’t be wowed by personalized service if their basic needs aren’t met or their questions go unanswered.

  • Service is a people business; give customer care professionals the freedom to shine. Customers want to be helped by empowered, efficient people.

  • Measure service success through the voice of the customer. Let customers tell you how you’re doing, and truly seek to improve based on their feedback. Do not use own internal measurements.

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