An article in the Sunday Star Times (‘Insincerely yours’, Oct 9 2005) claims that New Zealand companies “are robbing their customers, robbing their staff, and robbing themselves with an insincere approach to customer service”.

The article goes on to say:

  • The good experiences were powerful – but so were the bad ones: “Some people were shaking, some had tears in their eyes. They were deeply etched emotions and experiences.”
  • On average, one great experience would lead to someone telling nine other people about it.
  • Unhappy customers told an average of 13 other people, and a quarter said they would never deal with that supplier again. More than a third started looking for another supplier.
  • Overall, about 62% of people had stopped dealing with a company in the past year. Of those, 70% had done so because of bad service factors within the control of businesses.

I admit, I’m one of those people who will look for another supplier if I’m treated badly – and it sounds like I’m in the majority (a refreshing change!).

Over the past few years I’ve dumped (or never returned to) the following companies due to bad service:

  • iHUG – I wasted hours of my life trying to get through to a real person.
  • Saturn (now TelstraClear) – Didn’t connect my phone when promised (a week late), plus ongoing bad service.

More interesting points from the SST article:

  • 30% of those surveyed said their experiences dealing with government departments and local bodies are getting worse (just 9% said they’re improving). What does this mean for government websites – could the web usability industry have something to teach the ‘offline experience’ as well? (I think we could).
  • 39% said banks are getting better (17% say it’s worse). This is good news for banks who traditionally don’t have a good reputation. Could improvements in online banking have something to do with this positive rating?
  • Service (petrol) stations rate 30% negative and just 4% positive. Is this to do with rising petrol prices, or the fact that many service stations are impersonal, stark and (increasingly) self-service?

Overall, it’s great to see some in-depth analysis on the customer experience in New Zealand which goes beyond the usual mass marketing angle, and talks about real people and real emotions.