One way brands achieve cult status is through superior customer service. A recent article in Marketing Mag describes several key findings from a survey taken by Canadian consumers.

1) 76% of respondents said they’ve spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service, and on average will spend 12% more.

Customers do not go to Starbucks for a cup of a coffee. Rather, they go (and pay a premium) for a positive customer experience. Starbucks trains employees to go out of their way to consistently deliver that. I’ve worked at Starbucks, and it is a fast-paced job. But employees are trained to not simply get people through the line as quickly as possible. Rather, they are taught to take the time to personalize the experience by hand writing each guest’s name on the cup.

2) 57% said they had walked away from a business transaction or purchase in the past year due to a poor customer service experience.

I recently read about an extremely poor service experience with Amazon’s Chat Support. The customer service representative continually called the customer the wrong name, used poorer grammar, and failed to resolve the customer’s dispute. This high value customer never returned. Situations like this thwart all the millions marketing invests to create trial and should be considered a key marketing responsibility and not left to Operations to figure out. Operations is trained to gain efficiencies, not improve customer engagement.

3) 40% of Canadians believe businesses are paying less attention to customer service (more than any other country surveyed) and only 2% think companies exceed their customer service expectations.

It’s hard to say which companies actually made it into this 2%, but one company I’d bet on is TD Canada Trust. Banks are not known for creating positive customer experiences. But this past summer TD Banks turned a few of its ATMs into “automatic thanking machines” and created very special moments for some lucky customers. These customers received a special thank you, along with trips, tickets to sports games, RESP contributions and much more.

4) 94% said they talk about their service experiences, even if they aren’t positive. On average, Canadians said they tell eight people about a good experience and 17 about a bad one.

Want to improve your word of mouth and increase positive perceptions about your brand? Start with the people on your payroll. Educate and empower them to make every customer interaction a good one.

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