Sink or swim: Exceptional customer experiences are no longer optional


In an age where consumers wouldn’t dream of buying a product, paying for a service or even interacting with a brand without consulting their peers, or more likely the internet, providing a good customer experience simply isn’t an option for businesses and brands anymore. Couple this with consumers’ willingness to share these experiences web wide, good or bad, and there is little wonder that a businesses’ customer service capabilities rank as the biggest indicator of consumer trust. According to new research from first direct, over three quarters of us expect excellent customer service as standard, with more than three out of four revealing it immediately instils their trust in brands they engage with (76%).


Good customer service is instant


With technology now providing consumers with instant gratification, respondents naturally reveal the fundamental factor of good customer service is ‘a quick response’ (69% ranked as important). Interestingly, consumers admit it’s not all about a quick resolution to an issue (66%), but simply acknowledging the problem in hand and communicating transparently throughout (42%). The findings also highlight the importance for brands to evolve, enabling them to meet consumer expectations and match the growth and popularity of new communication channels, such as social media. With a direct and transparent route to a brand, over one in three consumers aged 18-34 (37%) say they use social media for customer service queries, with 30% relying on it as their first port of call, preferring it to phone, online chat or face-to-face interaction. 38% also use social media to find reviews and discuss experiences with others.


One bad experience can ruin a brands reputation


Being passed from pillar to post (74%), explaining your situation numerous times (68%), and automated services (60%) were identified as the main pet peeves for customers. And, with only 4% of consumers saying a bad customer experience would not deter them from engaging with a brand in the future, the findings indicate the importance of nailing social media as a customer service portal to provide an immediate, personalised and transparent approach.


First direct puts new findings to the test


What would happen if your favourite coffee shop started acting like a bank? With an automated order system producing your caffeine fix based on assumptions, there would be no chance of a tall, soya milk cappuccino with sugar free vanilla syrup and an extra shot of Guatemalan espresso! Well, that’s exactly what happened when first direct rigged a quirky East London burger van with hidden cameras and gave hungry workers the worst service of their life. Here’s what happened…


Zoe Burns-Shore, Head of Brand and Marketing at first direct explains: “We’ve always been known for doing things a little differently at first direct, therefore we wanted to poke a little bit of fun at the status quo. Our award-winning knowledge of customer service means we also know what ticks our customers off – and we really pushed this to the limit with this prank, with a service they just didn’t expect.”