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22 Customer Support Statistics That You Absolutely Need to Know

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Surprising research that can help you deliver better support.

In just about any field, there’s always the “standard” advice that seems to get repeated all over the web without any real proof.

And then there’s the truth.

Researched and proven findings that, although sometimes unconventional, can hold the keys to better results.

Since we first published our list of customer service statistics two years ago, there’s been a lot of interesting new data that has revealed how the customer support landscape is changing, and what you can do about it.

1) Happy customers are a lot more likely to tell their friends

On average, happy customers tell nine people about their experiences with a company.

If you want referrals through word of mouth and great online reviews, focus on making your customers happy. As research shows, the reward can be exponential.

2) But a single unhappy customer often means that there are many more

For every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who don’t say anything.

Often, they’ll simply get fed up and leave.

That’s why customers who complain are giving you an extraordinarily valuable gift: insight into what’s probably making many more customers unhappy than just the person who chose to tell you about it.

Want more on learning what your customers really think? Check out this post.

3) Plus, angry customers gossip more than happy ones

Just as it’s important to keep your customers happy⁠—because happy customers tell their friends⁠—it’s equally important to turn angry customers around (here’s how to do that).

Why?

Because while happy customers might tell nine friends, unhappy customers, on average, tell sixteen.

That’s sixteen “anti-referrals” for every upset customer that you don’t make whole.

That’s a big price to pay for a bad customer experience.

4) Making existing customers happy can help you sell more than finding new customers

When it comes to sales, the probability of selling to an existing happy customer is up to 14x higher than the probability of selling to a new customer.

Many people think that the only way to grow their business is to find new customers. But often, the best source for growth is sitting right in front of you: existing customers. You just have to make them happy, and then find ways to deliver more value to them.

Read our guide to upselling to existing customers to increase revenue.

5) In fact, retention is the most surefire way to improve your bottom line

Businesses that grow their customer retention rates by as little as 5% typically see profit increases ranging from 25% to 95%.

Keeping your customers happy doesn’t just let you upsell; it keeps your customers around longer, and massively increases customer lifetime value… and profits.

6) If you’re known for good customer service, you can charge more

86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.

With excellent customer service seeming more and more rare these, customers are willing to pay a premium for it. Deliver on that desire, and your customers will be happy to pay higher prices.

7) Customers will, in fact, pay more for better service

The previous version of this list cited research that had customers saying they would pay more for customer service.

Well, now we can actually back that up with customer behavior.

In research on actual customer transactions published in the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that among thousands of customers studied, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.

8) But if you don’t deliver great support, your customers will leave

82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service experience.

Just like great support is a magnet for high-value customers, bad support will repel them fast. Here’s how to take the first step to improving your customer service.

9) When you screw up, don’t forget to apologize

37% of customers are satisfied with service recovery when they are offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit). But when the business adds an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74%.

When you screw up, making the customer whole with a refund or credit is an obvious part of resolving the issue. But an often overlooked and even more important part is simply saying “I’m sorry.”

10) Speed isn’t the most important thing in support…

In one study, researchers measured how “engaged” customers felt after getting service at a bank.

While customers who felt that the bank offered speedy service were six times more likely to be highly engaged, customers who gave the bank high ratings on “people” factors (like the tellers’ courtesy and willingness to help) were nine times more likely to be fully engaged.

For businesses who want to win on customer experience, speed is not the ultimate goal. Extraordinary customer service is.

11) In fact, empathy is REALLY important

Why do we talk so much about empathy? About being human in your customer support?

It’s not just because it sounds nice.

It’s because it counts.

A few years ago, a survey by Genesys asked more than 9,000 consumers about what mattered to them most when it came to interacting with companies.

40% of them—more than double the responses that the second place answer received—said "better human service".

See our guide to developing empathy in your customer service here.

12) But there is ONE channel where speed counts the most

32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.

Customer expectations⁠—the expectations that customer happiness hinges on⁠—change based on the medium you’re interacting in.

While speed may not be most important for email, phone, or in-person support, in social media, speed trumps all.

13) Speaking of social media, keep your ear to the ground

Failure to respond to customer complaints and questions on social media can lead to 15% increase in churn

When your customers turn to social media, there’s a lot at stake. Make sure you’re listening.

There are a lot of great tools and strategies that can help here. We covered the best ones here.

14) If you do social media right, you’ll be rewarded

A study by Bain & Company suggests that when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers, on average, end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.

Check out our tips for social media customer service for more.

15) More and more customers want live chat

Customers are using live chat more than ever. In fact, the growth rate is pretty insane.

According to a Forrester survey, the percentage of customers who have used live chat for customer service has grown from 38% in 2009 to 58% in 2014, and it’s continuing to rise.

That’s a nearly 10% increase year-over-year, more growth than any other channel by a wide margin.

16) Live chat makes customers happier, too

People aren’t just using live chat, they’re actually getting more satisfaction out of it than from any other channel, according to eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark survey.

It all makes sense when you consider the benefits of live chat: ease of contact combined with lightning-fast resolution times mean drastically reduced customer effort (the single biggest driver of customer loyalty)

17) Consider introducing a loyalty program

More than half of customers would consider increasing the amount of business they do with a company for a loyalty reward, and 46% already have.

It should be clear by now that loyalty can mean a lot to your bottom line.

Loyalty programs can be a great way to nurture customer relationships. Check out our guide to loyalty programs for more.

18) Want loyal customers? Focus on making their lives easier

In a survey of more than 75,000 consumers, the number one most important factor in a customer’s loyalty is reducing their effort (the work they must do to get their problem solved).

Contrary to the conventional advice that loyalty is built on “WOW’ing the customer,” research suggests that the critical goal should be reducing customer effort.

Make life easier for your customers, and they’ll have a great reason to stick around.

19) One way to make customers AND your team’s lives easier is self-serve support

91% said of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.

A great knowledge base can help you cut down on support tickets, deliver faster customer service and make your customers happier.

And largely, your customers want to use it.

20) To maximize customer support productivity, don’t forget to automate

A three-person customer support team can save 600 hours per year through automation.

In support, much of our time is spent doing repetitive tasks that, frankly, we don’t need to be doing by hand.

With some simple automations like saving common replies and creating rules that filter incoming messages, we can save massive amounts of time.

Read our guide to customer service automation.

21) Motivate your customer service employees the right way

81 percent of employees said that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

The finding above comes from a survey of more than 2,000 employees who were asked what motivated them most.

In fact, appreciation was cited more than twice as often as the second most common response.

But it’s not just something that employees say; research also suggests that people truly to respond to appreciation as a powerful motivator. See our post on motivating support employees for more.

22) Put your customers first in your marketing, too

Being a customer-first company is about more than great support. It’s about putting your customers first in your marketing, too.

Marketing strategies like content marketing, which revolve around creating marketing that delivers value to your customers before they buy, don’t just help bring in new customers; they help bring in more valuable customers.

New research from MarketingSherpa found that nearly 60 percent of highly satisfied customers believe that the marketing of a company they were satisfied with “often or always” puts their needs ahead of its own business goals, compared to 16.1 percent of highly unsatisfied customers — a relative difference of 269 percent.

Using These Statistics to Deliver Better Customer Support

LivePerson's Connecting with Consumers report, released in 2013, was based on a survey of more than 5,700 online consumers.

83% of them needed some kind of support during their online journey.

That means that if you’re doing business online, you have a lot of opportunities to deliver great customer service.

I hope you’ll use the information and resources linked above to take those opportunities; you’ll see huge rewards from your customers, your team and your business.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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