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First impressions count - FACT!

17th Oct 2011
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The importance of making a good first impression with customers was drummed home after a new survey found that a third of consumers would give a company just one chance to ‘wow’ them before they turned their back on them for good.

At the same time, nearly half of consumers say the economic downturn has made it more important for companies to go the extra mile to impress before they part with their cash, finds a survey of over 2,000 UK consumers around tolerance for bad service commissioned by Sage.
And yet companies are failing to up their game; only 22% of consumers believe companies are doing more to go the extra mile for their customers during the recession. Perhaps more worryingly, a quarter or respondents said they thought companies were actually making less of an effort to deliver an enhanced level of service during the downturn.
The study also highlighted geographic and demographic differences in attitude; Londoners are the most tolerant of a disappointing customer experience, with the highest proportion across the UK saying they would give a company a second chance if they failed to impress first time around. Consumers in East Anglia are the least tolerant.
Older people are also far less tolerant of a disappointing experience than younger people and there’s a distinct gender divide in attitudes to customer service too; the survey found that men value speed and efficiency when it comes to judging whether the experience they have dealing with  company is good or bad. Women are more likely to value dealing with companies that take the time to listen to them and understand their needs.
Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a consumer psychologist from Goldsmiths College, and an expert on human behaviours, said the findings show how demanding British consumers are today. “It appears that the recession has challenged consumers to be much more selective and careful, which has ended up making them wiser, too. This is definitely positive for Britain because it will continue to force businesses to raise the bar and deliver better services at a better value.”
But Chamorro-Premuzic warned there was a danger of customer service complacency among companies: “Today, more than ever, companies need to attend to the psychology of the consumer, which involves being aware of their needs and maintaining a personalised relationship with each customer. If they cannot do this they will really struggle to survive. If they can, they will most probably seduce consumers and keep them loyal to their brand.”
In terms of the experience they want from companies, a simple smile or friendly greeting are key to delivering a superior customer experience. Respondents also rated treating customers as individuals. The survey also found that men were more likely to prioritise speed and efficiency when judging customer experience, while women were more likely to favour companies that took the time to get to know them and understand their wants and needs.
Kevin Thompson, head of customer services for Sage’s Small Business Division, said: “With competition fierce and money tight, it’s more important than ever for businesses to up their game by going above and beyond the standard level of service that consumers expect. Businesses that are unable to break the cycle of formalised service levels will struggle to deliver the wow factor customers clearly want.”

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