The importance of customer satisfaction

76% of customers say they would switch to a company’s competitor if they had multiple bad customer service experiences. Reference: Zendesk CX Trends 2022.

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Alban Duro
March 15, 2022 11:00 am

If the bad experience isn’t that bad, then I’m prepared to give the business another chance. For me it’s 2 strikes and you’re out. I think training and culture has a big impact on customer service levels. When I visited Japan a few years ago, something that stood out to me was how attentive staff were to customers at stores, stations etc. I recall one time going into a store in Shinjuku and asking for a specific camera model I couldn’t find on the shelves. The staff member I spoke to said he might have something in storage, and he ran to check. He came running back to me after he’d checked and told me that unfortunately the store didn’t have it. Although I didn’t get the camera I wanted, the staff’s effort left a good impression. I’ve never had any staff member value my time so much that they ran to check for an item. I experienced something similar in Taiwan when I spilled my coffee at a Starbucks. I wanted to pay for a replacement but they wouldn’t allow it and they gave me another drink for free.

To understand why customer service is so good in Japan, it’s worth watching the Day in the Life of a Japanese Casino Worker by YouTuber Paolo fromTOKYO. At around the 10 minute mark, Paolo talks about an old Japanese saying: Okyaku-sama wa Kami-sama desu or お客様は神様です, which translates to The customer is God.

March 14, 2022 10:57 pm

It baffles me how so many service industry workers struggle to grasp the statistic presented above. It’s not rocket science that bad customer service makes a company lose business. I remember this one time I was at a computer store looking to buy a new laptop. Back then we still used compact discs to store photos, files etc, and it was a big deal to have a laptop that loaded CDs quickly. As I was looking at different laptops and found one I liked, I asked one of the salespeople if I could test the CD-ROM drive. I luckily had a CD to hand. I inserted it into the laptop but it took a while to load. The salesperson had told me the laptop was one of the latest, most powerful models, so I expected things to load quickly. But it didn’t. When I asked him what was up with the slow CD loading time, he got all aggressive saying it was the latest model and it’s not loading slowly. I replied that I had a 4 year old laptop and it loaded quicker than this. That annoyed him even more. I wasn’t rude at any point and had asked an innocent question, not at all deserving of his pettiness. His belligerent attitude confirmed one thing though. There was no way I was going to spend money in that store. See ya!

Another time I got in touch with this company that sent people abroad for volunteer and work experiences. There was an opportunity to live in Hanoi, Vietnam. I thought it’d be pretty cool to spend some time there and soak in a new culture. The thing with me is I’m not great with sharing rooms. I’ve never been a big fan of hostels for example, always looking for private accommodation where possible. I called up the company and spoke to some guy to get more details. I asked about accommodation options, saying I would prefer a private room if any are available. The guy on the other end of the line sounded like I’d asked him how to put bread in a toaster. In the most “how don’t you know this?” way, he said all of us will stay in shared accommodation. It annoyed me how he talked to me – there wasn’t much detail about accommodation on the company website – but I let it slide. We agreed he would call me at a later date to discuss details further. In a few days he called but I wasn’t available and it went to my voicemail. When I checked my voicemail, the guy had left a message sighing in annoyance and hanging up. That was it for me. It was his job to be enthusiastic to get customers. Instead it sounded like I was dealing with an entitled jerk who hated his job. His loss. I scribbled that company off my list, went with another and had one of the best experiences of my life.

Last edited 6 months ago by carpent0r
Jason Ng
March 15, 2022 6:04 pm

Customer satisfaction is indeed a big deal and hypothetically speaking, I would switch in a heartbeat if I got some bad service. However it doesn’t always work this way. I think businesses and staff know this. When they have customers locked into a good deal, you’ve got to give exceptionally bad customer service for them to go elsewhere. Let me give you an example.

Pret is big coffee shop chain in the UK. I’m a member of their Pret Coffee Subscription that gives you up to 5 drinks a day for £25/month. It’s a great deal even though they raised the price from £20/month recently. They’ve had a lot of take-up for the subscription and I’ve previously written about how this could be affecting their working environment, and consequently their brand.

A few weeks ago I went into a Pret store I visit frequently and ordered a Mocha. It was busy and as I waited by the side of a long queue, I could see staff were under pressure with the constant influx of orders. After a short wait a barista shouted out “mocha” and “latte”. To confirm with the barista that I pick up the correct drink, I pointed to the drink he said was mine and asked “That’s a mocha, right?”. He confirmed that it was a mocha, so I picked it up and left the store.

I had to do a bit of shopping. Fortunately there’s a supermarket right to the Pret. I went in and picked up a few items. As I was paying for my stuff at the self-checkout counter I took a sip of my mocha. Wtf? What the heck is this? It didn’t taste like a mocha at all. I took another sip. Nope. Definitely not a mocha.

I went back into the Pret and spoke to the 2 baristas at the counter. I told them I had just been in the store and ordered a mocha, but this drink didn’t taste anything like it. Immediately they both blamed me for picking up the wrong drink. No way! I said I specifically waited for you to say “mocha” and I confirmed it too! They rejected my explanation outright. They said I picked up the wrong drink: “Sorry sir, you picked up the wrong one. Many people do it”. It was crazy they could say this without any evidence. When I repeated that I had been careful to pick up the right drink, they didn’t budge: “No sir, you picked up the wrong drink.”

I thought it was quite arrogant and presumptuous of them to say I was the one responsible for the mistake. Let’s look at it logically. They are the ones multitasking – taking multiple orders, making drinks, handing and receiving payments. All I have to do is wait for you to give me a drink. If anyone is going to make a mistake, who do you think is more likely to do it?

One of them asked what the drink was. I told them I didn’t know but whatever it was, it didn’t taste like a mocha. After some accusations/counter-accusations, they reluctantly agreed to make another drink. They took my drink back, inspected it and…. Surprise, surprise! It was a mocha after all. The barista had forgotten to mix it!! I got an almost inaudible “sorry” from one of them and the other avoided eye contact and ignored me. Poor show, Pret. I don’t need perfection, but at least admit when you’ve made a mistake, especially after accusing me so many times.

In other circumstances, I would chuck Pret in the bin. But I save a lot of money with the subscription that the horrible service described above isn’t enough to make me part ways with them. Earlier today I was in a Pret, waiting for an evening lecture I registered for. I chose that Pret because Google Maps says it closes at 7pm. At 5.15pm, a barista shouts out, “Hey everyone, just to let you know we’re going to be closing in 15 minutes.” I was fuming. The Google Maps info was updated a week ago. Sort it out Pret!! Customer satisfaction has been pretty bad with Pret but the subscription keeps me coming back.

Pret - timings.png
April 19, 2022 3:49 pm

To echo what others have said, it is quite strange that customer service is so bad in certain establishments when it is well known how important it is for business success. That’s like opening a karate dojo and telling interested customers that the head instructor is a yellow belt. There are times I’ve gone into a store and the person working at the till looks like they’d prefer to be ANYWHERE else but there. Once I was looking at joining a gym. After one of the managers gave me his spiel about the equipment and membership options, I said I was looking around and would get back to him if interested. Instead of the expected no problem sir, take your time and we’ll be here to answer any more questions, he got angry and tried to bully me into buying a membership. Might work for some. Not me. I walked out and crossed that gym off my list. The silly thing about it was that I was very close to signing with that gym. I just needed a bit more time to weigh my options, but I pretty much had made my decision. This manager’s aggressiveness totally turned me off.

On the flipside I have had some amazing customer service experiences that makes want to give them more of my money. One time I bought a gimbal; one of those things that give your phone stability while recording. I thought the model I bought was defective because when I placed my phone in it, the gimbal couldn’t keep itself steady. I contacted customer service and they tested out the problem with different phones, took photos and explained what I needed to do to fix the problem. As someone who has got the least interested, low effort customer service responses in the past, this was a breath of fresh air.

So why is customer service so good in some places and pathetically bad elsewhere? , the Zendesk report you have linked gives us a clue. Customer service agents have huge workloads, limited training and they aren’t happy with their performance metrics. There are few opportunities for advancement and to top it off, customer service teams aren’t respected by other teams. While it is acknowledged that customer service is of great importance, not all companies have representation of customer service teams in the boardroom. A manager somewhere down the line of the company hierarchy could be leading customer service teams, but is far removed from important decisions at the top. The difference between companies that get customer service right and those that get it wrong, is the investment companies place in customer service. More budget, more training, more respect and more representation in the C-suite is what it takes from changing an indifferent agent or till worker to a motivated employee wanting to provide a memorable, supportive customer experience.

Jason Ng
June 2, 2022 4:14 pm

Another post. This time about a kebab restaurant called Bosphorus in South Kensington, London. This happened over 10 years ago but I still remember it because it annoyed me so much. The cashier working at the till deliberately tried to give me the wrong change, hoping to pocket the money. It wasn’t a small amount. The annoying aspect of his deception was the fact that the complete lack of moral compass was on display. I wonder how people like this can live with themselves. Don’t you have any shame? Any conscience? I remember being so disgusted at the cashier’s behaviour that I wrote a review on Yelp:

“I don’t usually write reviews, however I felt compelled to write one after an experience there. The food is good, however it’s the service that is questionable. I went there one afternoon and ordered a meal for around £10. I only had a £50 note with me at the time and I handed it over to pay for my order. The person who took the money handed me back around £20 less than what was owed to me and got back to his work (in the hope that I somehow wouldn’t notice).

When he noticed me standing there looking at him, within a second he was able to provide me with the correct change. If I hadn’t noticed and walked out, he would’ve said nothing and kept the money.

The fact that he was able to provide me with the correct change straight away (after me flagging up his “mistake”; I didn’t even mention how much he owed me) lets me know that he knew exactly what he was doing (or trying to do).

It’s a shame they have people like this working there. The food is nice and there are testimonials all over the wall explaining how nice the place is. However behaviour like this is a huge turn off. I will not be going back there and certainly wont recommend others go there either.”

For some reason Yelp thought my review was illegitimate. Don’t believe me? Check out the not recommended reviews and scroll to 8th July 2011. Anyway it was a bad move by him. If he got away with it, he’d have pocketed some extra cash. Instead he made the business lose a regular customer, thereby costing the business hundreds of £ a year. If you’re thinking of pulling this stunt, don’t. It’s incredibly disrespectful to your customers and if they catch you doing it, the reputational damage to your business is quite often irreparable.

Bosphorous Review.PNG
Ernest Vicente
April 26, 2022 4:33 am

I get how people working in customer service can be stuck in a monotonous job. Doing the same thing over again and dealing with unpleasant customers. It can drain you of enthusiasm faster than watching paint dry. I get it. But… Yes there is a but. What about customers? We have to be treated with respect too.

Let’s say I buy something and my payment is late. I have to pay a late charge. That’s a non-negotiable for the company. Now let’s flip that round. I’ve purchased something from a business and it’s late with delivery. What leverage do I have? None. All I get is an apology and a “your item will be with you soon”. I’m sorry, but unless we have some way of knocking off the price, just like we’re charged more for being late, I don’t see why I should go to the effort of caring about the customer service agent. We’re not being respected by companies with terms like that. Until the customer gets respect, so to will the company and it’s staff.

The point I’m trying to make is it shouldn’t be 76% who switch to another company after a bad experience. It should be 100%. There can be no room for error when the terms are so one-sided. Also we can’t deny that a lot of customer service agents are incompetence personified. Really I’ve had some of the most frustrating exchanges with customer service agents who just can’t grasp the fundamentals of a problem, which is entirely derived from their incompetence. Their incompetence, funnily enough, breeds more incompetence.

Let me backtrack. Mistakes are part of life. Companies mess up as do customers. The only way we will become more tolerant of company mistakes is when the customer is treated with respect. Treat us on equal terms. When we’re late for payment, you charge us. It’s only fitting that when you’re late for delivery, we charge you. Get that done and the 76% stat will drop.

April 22, 2022 5:52 am

So I see some people have pointed out the inexplicable nature of bad customer service. For a short stint I worked in the wonderful world of telesales – what a joyful profession. Sometimes there just isn’t any accountability. When I worked at my telesales job, there was sufficient regulation in place that rewarded good customer service. Complaints were taken seriously and could result in fines for our company. Years prior, no such regulation was in place. I heard some funny stories of old-timers who’d been in the industry back then and they could get away with anything. Telling the customer to STFU was a regular occurrence and you could get away with it. Definitely wouldn’t fly now. My buddy Mark told me a funny conversation he had with a caller:

Mark: Hello, Mark speaking. How can I help?
Customer: Well, I don’t think you can.
Mark: Why are you calling then? [Hangs up on customer]

Today’s customer would probably throw a fit, but you could do things like that back then. Depending on what industry you’re in, it could be that the regulation has yet to catch up, meaning the regulatory incentive to give good customer service isn’t quite there. Practially speaking, any intelligent business shouldn’t have to wait for regulation. Good customer service, as everyone has already noted, is a basic requirement to generate customer satisfaction and loyalty. So if you’re a business waiting for regulation to catch up, you’re probably not going to last long…

Unless you’re Chicago’s Weiner’s Circle, a hot dog stand that’s become popular because of its horrible customer service! Customers go there for the food and to get abused! 😂

Aaron Seleka
April 3, 2022 11:02 am

A good customer service experience makes you feel valued. I remember going into a clothing store and after not finding my size, leaving my contact details in case the right size came in. The right size did come in, and they called me to tell me, but when I dug deeper I found out that the store assistant had gone to great lengths to source the item from another branch basically on the other side of the country. Of course I had to buy it!

I have experienced bored and underpaid store assistants who clearly don’t want to be there. That almost always makes me want to purchase things at another store. Sometimes we don’t have the choice to switch to a competitor. One area of service that is almost universally bad in this country (South Africa) is the public service. Try to get a driver’s licence renewed, or a passport, or your taxes submitted – and feel the brunt of career government officials who have seen your type so many times over the years and are not motivated to impress you!

Parag Khanna
June 28, 2022 4:06 am

I’m currently traveling in Malaysia and I don’t think this statistic applies here. Customer service is HORRIBLE here. I think people are used to it, so they don’t get angered by it like me. Yesterday I was with a friend and we were looking at plants in a supermarket. My friend asked a store clerk a question about the plants and the clerk didn’t bother to turn around and sounded annoyed that they had to respond. How can you expect a sale if you treat a customer like this?

The wait times are TERRIBLE here. I guess when you come from another country where things are done quickly, it really grinds your gears having to wait so long to be served. It’s like people are in slow-motion here, lazily going about their work. I visited Starbucks at Berjaya Times Square yesterday and I wanted to slap the baristas there. I was so angry at how SLOW they are! It’s just so frustrating… even Mahatma Gandhi would lose his cool. The baristas are polite, don’t get me wrong. Nice people and professional. I just wish I could press a button on a remote and speed them up x2.

So here’s my experience. When I entered Starbucks, the wait was long. Customers before me are served slowly, so it compounds the time wasted. I ordered a Mocha and the barista asked me if I wanted a different type of coffee. I asked what the difference was; something like the bean being roasted differently. Ok, why not?

Bad experience #1
The barista didn’t tell me that the different roast jacked the price up. I paid using contactless and noticed it a few minutes later on my receipt and mobile banking app. I asked another barista who was walking by and they explained why my coffee was so expensive. Come on guys, TELL your customers that it’s more expensive. How are we supposed to know?

Bad experience #2
So now I’m waiting for my coffee in the pick-up point and 12 minutes have passed. I’m really getting annoyed. Why is everything in slow-mo? Do they think we have nothing better to do with our lives? I’m so annoyed that I tell a barista I’ve been waiting a long time. They look at my receipt and inform me that I’m waiting at the wrong pick-up point. I should be waiting at another pick-up point where they prepare the special roasted coffee. Again, how are we supposed to know this!? TELL YOUR CUSTOMERS. Maybe some locals know this because they visit the store frequently, but there were other foreigners there waiting for their drinks, puzzled about where to go. This is really stupid, Starbucks. How hard is it to tell customers where to wait?

Bad experience #3
So now I go to the other pick-up point and the coffee still isn’t ready. It’s incomprehensible to me how they don’t even apologize for the wait. Is this normal in Malaysia, to wait over 20 minutes for a coffee? (see my receipt – that photo was taken about 5 minutes before the coffee was prepared). Do they not apologize because this is standard practice? I honestly would go nuts living here. I was so angry that I could barely squeeze out a “thank you”. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

As I said, the baristas seem like nice people. Nothing personal. It’s the service that is infuriating. Slow, slow, slow! Starbucks Berjaya Times Square, I’m sorry but you get 1 star out of 10 for slow-motion service, and that’s being generous.

Starbucks Berjaya Times Square.jpg