The financial costs of bad customer service
Businesses suffer financially as a result of poor customer service.

Dear Editor,

There is a great need for every company in Jamaica, large and small, to invest in quality customer service delivery training.

Consumers generally believe that if they have chosen to spend their money with a certain organsation, then, at the very least, the service experience should be pleasant and hassle-free, and rightly so.

Oftentimes private businesses focus on getting the current sale and getting the customer out the door rather than trying to actually build a relationship. The latter would increase the lifetime value of the customer.

When customers leave establishments feeling like their needs were not met, the interaction was unpleasant and cumbersome, they begin to reflect on their overall experience and have some discomfort, even to the extent that they vow openly or privately not to return.

If they decide not to return, they are leaving that business with all the potential monies that could have been made from them over the lifetime of their continued patronage.

Clearly, if a customer decides to take their business elsewhere there are real financial costs for the company. According to a consumer study conducted in 2021 by US-based company Qualtrics XM, approximately US$4.7 trillion in annual revenue could be lost globally due to poor customer service. The study also found that more than half (53 per cent) of consumers have cut their spending after just a single bad experience with a company. In another study it was found that 89 per cent of consumers said that they would spend more than 17 per cent more with the company if it treated them better.

Research has also found that the most cited reason for switching companies is not due to the product or even processes, but bad customer service. Even though these studies were conducted in the US, they underscore the importance of human interaction and building solid relationships with customers.

These findings are applicable to Jamaica. Customers are grading companies that they choose to do business with using a simple pass or fail grade and if the latter is the case, customers will not hesitate to move on to the competition.

Bad customer service makes good and offending organisations look bad, plain and simple. With the power of social media, online consumer forums, and the digital age altogether, companies should take more care in how they treat customers. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool.

Nowadays consumers place much more value on what their peers say about a company than what the company communicates via advertisements. Customer facing employees should be made aware that each time a customer leaves an interaction feeling cheated or very dissatisfied, that is money that the organisation is losing in a significant way.

Sadly, there is a tendency for employees in all industries across Jamaica to treat customers as though they are doing them a favour, not realising that had it not been for their patronage there would not be a company in the first place. The money spent by customers in any organisation is used to pay the employees and take care of overheads. However, it appears as though this fact is very little or completely unknown. As a result, the attitude exhibited is one of rudeness, nonchalance, and apathy, rather than courtesy, friendliness, helpfulness, and “we know you have a choice, and we appreciate your business”.

Believe it or not, customers (both internal and external) are the lifeline of organisations and should be treated as such.

Deidri-Ann Blackwood

Lecturer, Marketing Division, University of Technology, Jamaica.

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