Australians Less Tolerant Of Bad Service Than Most

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11th October 2010, 11:20am - Views: 1012
Australians Less Tolerant of Bad Service Than Most

EMBARGOED 12:01am Tuesday 12 October 2010 - Australia is one of the least tolerant nations when it comes to receiving bad service, second only to Mexico, with almost 9 in 10 Australians having ceased doing business with a company following poor service.

These findings were released today in the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in Australia and eleven other countries, exploring public attitudes and preferences towards customer service.

The Barometer reveals that generally most Australians (48%) will allow two poor customer service experiences before blacklisting a company. A less forgiving 28% are only willing to excuse one service lapse.

The good news for businesses is that customers are more forgiving of poor service if they have generally experienced good service with the company over time. Almost 9 in 10 consumers (86%) report they're willing to give a company a second chance after a bad experience if they've historically experienced great customer service with that company.

"These findings demonstrate the importance of building relationships with customers, rather than approaching service as a transaction. Lapses in service standards happen, but if customers realise these incidents are the exception and not the rule, they will be more understanding", says Christine Wakefield, Vice President of American Express World Service in Australia.

In another positive sign for businesses, the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer shows that a good service experience has greater impact than a negative one.

Consumers are more likely to give a company repeat business and to speak positively about the company if asked after a good service experience (96% each), than they are to never do business with a company again (88%) or speak negatively about the company (89%) after a poor experience.

When bad service is received, the Barometer reveals that Australians are unlikely to provide direct feedback to the business. In fact, compared to the other nations surveyed, Australians are among those who are most unlikely to speak to a company supervisor about the incident and even less inclined to write a letter or an email to the company.

Rather, people are more likely to complain about the incident among their own social circle, speak negatively about the company if asked, or recommend their friends, colleagues or family avoid the establishment.

"Sadly Australians have found complaining directly to organisations difficult and frustrating. Not only is it almost impossible to find out who to complain to, when Australians do complain often nothing is done or in some extreme cases, retribution is meted out by staff who have not been adequately trained in the art of good service", Brett Whitford, founder and Executive Director of the Customer Service Institute of Australia.

More than half of Australian consumers expect something in return after a poor customer experience, yet interestingly financial compensation rated second to an apology.

Wakefield says that the most important thing for customers following a bad service experience is for the mistake to be acknowledged. "An apology can go a long way in making a customer feel that they are valued and appreciated", says Wakefield.

When a business is willing to provide financial compensation, a 20% discount is the average amount that would motivate Australians to return.

Wakefield believes that businesses should view service as an investment and ensure staff are adequately trained and equipped to deliver it exceptionally.

"A business' reputation and longevity is built by frontline employees one customer at a time."

American Express' top tips for responding to bad service

1.Speak up as soon as you experience bad service to the person who delivered it, by calmly, yet confidently explaining what you were dissatisfied with. If you feel ignored, escalate the matter by asking to speak to a manager. If you don't speak up, odds are that poor service will continue to be delivered to other customers.

2.Write to head office if the business is part of a chain or a franchise. Ultimately, legitimate complaints, by even a few people, can (and often do) result in better service for everybody.

3.Vote with your feet if poor service continues after you have raised the issue you are probably better off taking your business elsewhere.

Global comparison of findings - Available on request

About The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer - The survey was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+ in Australia. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between April 13 -20, 2010. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 3.1% at the 95 percent level of confidence. The same survey methodology was used in Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., Spain, the Netherlands, USA, India and Japan.

For more information or to organise an interview, please contact:
Jane Gregory - American Express Public Affairs & Communications
Ph: 02 9271 1280
0416 137 335 or
[email protected]

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on, and

SOURCE: American Express

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