Australian Businesses need to step up on Customer Service

Written by on August 1, 2012

According to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer released this May, 40% of consumers in Australia are dissatisfied with the customer service they receive from brands they do business with.

Take a moment and absorb that statistic – for every 5 customers that an Australian business today has, 2 do not even consider the service passable. In fact, only the French are more dissatisfied than consumers down under.

We sat and racked our brains as to why that could be.

It isn’t the economy…

With most countries on the list, the level of customer support seems to be highly correlated with hits on the economy. But though the Australian economy seems to just be settling down after 2 decades of skyrocketing, the economic impact on customer satisfaction still does not seem to make sense.

Is Down Under down?

If you had a bad day, you are likely to vent your frustration at the hot dog vendor for putting in too little mustard. It seems natural to assume customer satisfaction would be correlated with the general happiness index.

We turned to the OECD Better Life Index to figure out how happy our Australian buddies are. What do you know, mate? Australians are ranked as the happiest people in the world!

As it turns out, they rank pretty high on their sense of community, civic engagement and their sense of environment. And things start making a bit more sense.

The ‘social’ media gap in Sydney

There is no place that builds the community like social media. As early as 2010, social media penetration in Australia was at a whopping 90%. Interestingly, fewer than 18% of businesses in the country actively use social media to reach out to customers. And less than half of them actually engage their customers and support them there. That means roughly for every 10 customers screaming in social media, less than 1 business shows that it actually cares.

Because they care!

The Better Life Index also sheds light on another important aspect about Australian consumers – they care. For example, the consistently high voter turnout is an excellent indicator that consumers in Australia want to be heard. The support process is not over with the customer flagging an issue and the business eventually resolving it. For Australians, that is just the beginning.

To really give customers a refreshing experience, Australian businesses need to involve them through the support process and educate them with the what, how and why. And at the end of the day, the business needs to give every customer the platform to share what she thinks about that support experience.

Great support is great business, too

Going back to the Global Customer Service Barometer, it isn’t surprising that Australian consumers are willing to pay 12% more for the goods they already buy, just so they get a better service experience.

That’s not just a lot of dollars lying around for business down under to pick up – that’s happy customers too.
Now that’s a point worth thinking about – 12% extra just for better customer service. And that is just on average. Point is, there’s a consumer segment in the demographics that is prepared to shell out a lot more, just to be treated better.

This is a big deal.

Australian businesses have a huge opportunity on their hands. Time will tell which ones recognize this one and step up their game.

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