Survey: Holiday Customers Value Customer Service Above All

Customer service satisfaction is split along online (happy) and offline (grumpy) users.

Consumers are looking for black coal to put into their brick-and-mortar retailers stocking this holiday season, with complaints soaring about bad customer service experiences. But those same consumers are seemingly ecstatic with online customer service.

Some of those results—courtesy of a new survey from American Express and the National Retail Federation—are not surprising. In the same way that a politician can benefit from low expectations, many consumers seemed to have had lower expectations of online this year, so they were more easily favorably impressed.

Those good online experiences apparently mushroomed, as online consumers said they were eager to share happy online experiences and less eager to share equally happy brick-and-mortar experiences. The novelty of the online encounter is more interesting, which lends the Web site a nice viral marketing boost.

"Consumers like to share the highs and lows of their shopping experiences with family and friends," said Katherine Mance, vice president of the NRF Foundation, the education and research arm of the National Retail Federation. "Its no stretch to say that a single customer service experience, whether positive or negative, affects a retailers sales from a variety of consumers, not just one."

/zimages/6/28571.gifShould retailers boost customer service by keeping customers away from seasonal employees? To read more, click here.

The study found that a whopping 99 percent of shoppers interviewed said that customer service was at least somewhat important to them when deciding to make a purchase.

The survey found a mere 16 percent of brick-and-mortar shoppers who said they were extremely satisfied with their most recent customer service experience, while an additional 51 percent said they were very satisfied. In contrast, online shoppers were almost three times as likely to be extremely satisfied with their customer service experience (44 percent), and an additional 45 percent were very satisfied.

Next Page: Renewed effort is not enough.