No one has time for patience when it comes to customer service. But beyond that universal truth, there are significant gender differences between men and women when it comes to customer service.
According to a new survey from Kana, a provider of customer service solutions, both sexes are frustrated by wait times and slow response.
Beyond that, men are most annoyed by out-of-stock inventory, unknowledgeable or incompetent employees, lack of assistance and the bad attitude of customer service representatives. Women rate their frustrations, in order, as lack of assistance, bad attitudes, out of stock inventory and unknowledgeable or incompetent employees.
What We Want
Men value customer service that doesn't waste their time. They want to be attended by employees who listen and respond, offer care and attention and have the knowledge to get information quickly.
For women, the most valued aspects of customer service are a polite and welcoming attitude, a willingness to "go above and beyond," the sense that they are valued as customers and getting what they need without wasting time.
Overall, the survey reinforces many other indications that the savvy customer is prepared to go elsewhere if not treated well.
Nearly 60 percent of the respondents noted that they are very likely to bolt from a car dealer over poor customer service, and nearly the same felt that way about furniture and furnishings retailers. Half of the respondents said they were most likely to walk away from a seller of consumer electronics or telecommunications. As Kana points out, these retailers all feature expensive products.
Consumers are more tolerant and less likely to switch retailers because of bad customer service from an apparel/accessories retailer or pharmacy, drug or convenience store. Grocery stores showed an even split of 34 percent each among respondents who were asked whether they'd switch or stay when faced with bad customer service.
The moral appears to be that customers are willing to overlook bad customer service if there are trade-offs — better prices, a wider selection of products or convenience. After all, Wal-Mart Stores are certainly not known for customer service, but lots of people still shop there.
Is online customer service better than in-store? Forty percent chose online, a third said both channels are the same and almost 18 percent selected in-store. A third of respondents pointed out they have experienced an issue relating to the online-versus-in-store differences, such as return policies, a dichotomy Kana said underscored the need for retailers to do more to ensure consistency across channels.
The most preferred channel for interaction with a company is through a web site for 24.5 percent, followed by email at 17.9 percent. Video chat was the least preferred, followed by phone.
Sixty percent of respondents rated the overall quality of customer service they receive as seven or higher on a 10-point scale, with 10 the best. Women gave slightly higher ranks than men. The industry deemed to be the most customer service-oriented was apparel/accessories, with slightly more than half scoring it as at least an eight.
Great customer service (think Apple or Trader Joe's) can keep a customer loyal even in the face of missteps by the company. As other reports have shown, customer service is an essential part of the customer journey, as essential as marketing or product development. That's certainly something that men and women can agree on.