According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.
The survey, sponsored by Zendesk in the early part of 2013, included responses from 1,046 participants. Respondents had to be in the United States, and had to have experienced a recent customer service issue with a midsized company, either as a consumer or in a business context.
Approximately two-thirds of the 1,046 respondents reported reading online reviews. While Facebook was the leading resource for positive reviews, the most common place to find negative reviews were online review sites.
When asked what made a customer service interaction bad, 72 percent of the respondents blamed having to explain a problem to multiple people, while only 51 percent blamed a bad customer service interaction on the problem not being resolved.
Not only are customers most frustrated with the way customer service issues are handled, 58 percent said they were more likely to share customer service experiences today than they were five years ago, with more and more people sharing experiences on social networking sites and writing online reviews.
Of the respondents who shared negative experiences, 45 percent used social media and 35 percent shared via online review sites.
When respondents were segmented, 100 percent of the participants who earned $150K or more a year, said they shared bad customer service interactions with others.
B2B companies were more likely to benefit from customers who had a good customer service interaction with 62 percent of respondents saying they purchased more products or services from a B2B company following a positive customer service experience. Only 42 percent of positive B2C customer service interactions resulted in customers buying more products or services.
Key findings of the study illustrated that customer service not only affects revenue, but has a long lasting impact, with customer service ranking as the No. 1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company.
The overall takeaway from the survey is that midsized companies create better customer experiences when they react quickly to a customer service issue.
Because a company’s social media channels and website are managed most often by marketing, the study offers strong evidence toward the importance of customer service working hand-in-hand with marketing to respond quickly to online reviews and addressing customer concerns that are delivered via a company’s site and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.