75 Customer Service
Facts, Quotes & Statistics

How Your Business Can Deliver With the Best of the Best

Customer Service Facts

Not only is customer service a deeper field than those outside it may initially presume, it’s evolving at an unprecedented pace.

We originally published this resource of 75 customer service facts, statistics and quotations in 2012. Since then, the customer service landscape has changed so dramatically that we were well due for an update. (In the earlier version, for example, we shared the stat that Americans tell 9 people about good experiences, and 16 people about poor experiences. These days, with the prevalence of social media and higher expectations for customer service in general, that gap has narrowed significantly; more about that in Chapters 1 and 5.)

Along with the marketplace, customer attitudes and business’ responses have shifted. Chat and messaging are here to stay. Millennials have spending power and prefer different methods of communication. And we’ve barely scratched the surface where AI-empowered customer support is concerned.

We hope you find this revised resource informative! As always, let us know if we can ever help with anything — especially when it comes to delivering more helpful, human support to your customers.

Your friends at Help Scout

Chapter 1

The Cost of Bad Customer Service

Did you know

More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
An illustration of a woman carrying away their money
In the stats

33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
The data point

U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.

Newvoicemedia.com
Fact

Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
An illustration of a man writing a bad online review via their phone
The data point

74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.

Takeaway: Not only do you miss out on short-term sales with a difficult buying experience, you miss out on long-term loyalty and higher LTVs.

Salesforce
In the stats

After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again.

Newvoicemedia.com
The bottom line

Any business with customers is in the “People” business.

Takeaway: Losing even a single customer can be very costly. It’s critical for companies to turn a complaint into a positive for the customer and for the company moving forward.

Chapter 2

The ROI of Great Customer Service

In the stats

7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
The data point

Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.

Bain & Company
Did you know

As a group, Millennials are willing to spend the most (21% additional!) for great customer care.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
An illustration of coins being poured into a mug
Fact

A moderate increase in Customer Experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.

Temkin Group
Did you know

It is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

Takeaway: Businesses who prioritize acquisition over retention are missing out in a big way.

Harvard Business Review
An illustration of stacked shopping bags
The bright side

U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14% in 2014.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
The bottom line

Great businesses see service not as a cost, but as a sales opportunity.

Takeaway: Service is how great businesses differentiate themselves from competition and earn their customers’ business over and over again.

Chapter 3

What Customers Think

Did you know

The majority (66%) of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience.

Forrester
An illustration of a person cycling away
Quote

“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.”

Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”
The bright side

When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price.

Takeaway: Especially in crowded markets, it’s a safer bet to compete on CX than on price.

Gartner
The data point

Among B2B decision makers, lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers is the number one pain point, mentioned twice as often as price.

Temkin Group
Quote

“Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.”

Lauren Freedman, President of the E-tailing Group
Fact

Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services.

Newvoicemedia.com
In the stats

After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend.

Temkin Group
Quote

“Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.”

Lauren Freedman, President of the E-tailing Group
The bright side

81% of Americans feel that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations for service, compared to 67% in 2014.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
The bottom line

Customers overwhelmingly show appreciation for great service with their wallets.

Takeaway: Your company should invest heavily in measuring customer satisfaction over time and work to consistently give better service.

An illustration of a store front with people forming a line outside
Chapter 4

Power in a Personal Touch

Quote

“Stellar service should be non-negotiable and merchants shouldn't hide behind self-service tools and technology when it comes to knowing their products and taking care of their customers.”

Lauren Freedman, President of the E-Tailing Group
Fact

When Donors Choose (a platform that allows givers to fund the public school classroom projects of their choice) sent handwritten thank-you notes to half of all recent first-time donors, 38% of people who received a thank-you note were more likely to give again than those who didn’t receive one.

Takeaway: The organization now works handwritten thank-you notes into their business model, since recipients increase their average annual donation amount by $41, translating to more than $3 million in additional annual donations.

Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local

An illustration of hand written cards
The data point

75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.

Takeaway: If you offer some sort of live service (e.g., chat or phone), it’s important to get customers to a live person in less than two minutes. Otherwise it creates frustration that can lead to a seriously unhappy customer.

Harris Interactive
Quote

“Today’s consumers do not buy just products or services — more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience.”

McKinsey
In the stats

69% of U.S. online adults shop more with retailers that offer consistent customer service both online and offline.

Forrester
Quote

“Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”

Alan Weiss
Quote

“In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.”

Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”

An illustration of people forming a human pyramid
The data point

68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
The bottom line

There’s no substitution for knowledgeable, human service.

Takeaway: You’ll be amazed at what happens when you go out of your way to be an available and authentic voice on the other end of the line.

Chapter 5

The Social Graph

The bright side

Americans are more likely to post about good experiences (53%) than poor experiences (35%) on social media.

Takeaway: While people are more likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one, when it comes to social media specifically, people are more likely to be positive.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
An illustration of a person eating an ice cream and taking a selfie
Did you know

The average wait time on social media is nine hours.

Takeaway: Engaging rapidly with customers who contact your company via social channels is a huge opportunity for differentiation.

Shep Hyken, The 2015 Customer Experience Outlook
Quote

“Friends and colleagues’ endorsements, discussed in real life or through Twitter and Facebook updates, are more likely to drive sales than even a positive user review posted on a site like Yelp or Amazon (but those matter, too).”


Jason Mittelstaedt, Yellowstone Growth Partners
Quote

“People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business ... even the best of what formerly passed for good customer service is no longer enough. You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob’s shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren’t your customers wish they were. Social media gives businesses the tools to do that for the first time in a scalable way.”


Gary Vaynerchuk, “The Thank You Economy”
In the stats

In 2017, 35% reported reaching out in social channels, up from 23% in 2014 and 17% in 2012. Of those who have used social media for a customer service concern, 84% say they have received a response or resolution, up significantly from 65% in 2014.

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
Did you know

Knowing what's being said about your company online allows you to see where you're succeeding and where you need improvement.

Takeaway: Unfiltered feedback from customers is a positive even when it’s negative. A bad or so-so online review can help you because it gives customers certainty that the opinion is unbiased.

Gail Goodman, Entrepreneur, 2011
Quote

“The rise of the citizen review site is a sobering development. No longer are you on top of the mountain, blasting your marketing message down to the masses through your megaphone. All of a sudden, the masses are conversing with one another. If your service or product isn’t any good, they’ll out you.”


David Pogue, Scientific American
The bottom line

More people than ever are using social media to get help from businesses, and those numbers will only continue to rise.

Takeaway: Businesses who harness the power of social media to improve the customer experience will come out ahead of competitors who ignore it.

Chapter 6

Customer Service Channels

Fact

Email is still the most commonly used digital customer service channel — 54% of customers have used email customer service channels in the last year.

Forrester
Did you know

Customers expect businesses to respond to their emails within an hour.

Toister Performance Solutions
In the stats

Of all self-service channels, customers make the most frequent use of knowledge bases.

Forrester
The data point

More than 6 out of 10 U.S. consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool (such as a website, mobile app, voice response system or online chat).

American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer
An illustration of two people conversing
The bright side

Customer satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than all other support channels, likely because of the speed and conversational nature.

Takeaway: Chat leads to happy customers — because they can “stay in the venue”, they don’t have to stop what they’re doing to find an answer.

CustomerThink
Fact

The #1 reason people dislike calling companies: not being able to speak to a real person right away.

Newvoicemedia.com
In the stats

Customer satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than all other support channels, likely because of the speed and conversational nature.

Takeaway: Live chat support may require a larger team than email-only support, or at the very least, robust self-service options.

Live Chat Benchmark Report 2017
Did you know

Chat is the preferred support channel of Millennials.

Takeaway: Younger customers often feel more comfortable and familiar with live chat than they do with phone support or email.

Comm100
Quote

“The handful of companies that respond promptly and accurately to customer emails increase trust in their brand, bolster customer satisfaction, and boost sales both online and offline.”


BenchmarkPortal
Fact

Consumers will wait on hold for an average of 11 minutes before hanging up.

Takeaway: If you’re going to provide phone service, ensure you’re adequately staffed.

Newvoicemedia.com
Quote

“My metric for success can be summed up in one phrase: earn customers for life.”


Mary Barra, Chair and CEO, General Motors
In the stats

Customer expectations for chat response times are higher than they are with email — the average wait time for chat is 45 seconds.

Takeaway: Live chat support may require a larger team than email-only support, or more robust self-service options.

Live Chat Benchmark Report 2017
Did you know

As volumes of customer conversations balloon across an increasing number of channels, companies are increasing staff sizes: 46% of global contact center decision makers project 5%-10% growth in the next year, and 14% project growth of more than 10%.


Forrester
The data point

As the complexity of the issue increases, such as with payment disputes or complaints, customers are more likely to seek out a face-to-face interaction (23%) or a real person on the phone (40%).


Live Chat Benchmark Report 2017
In the stats

86% of B2B executives prefer using self-service tools for reordering, rather than talking to a sales representative.


Takeaway: Self-service tools are a powerful way to streamline routine tasks.

McKinsey
Fact

Three-quarters of online customers expect help within five minutes.


Takeaway: Growing customer expectations of superior service are going to continue to drive efforts to advance and refine digital solutions.

McKinsey
The bottom line

The customer service landscape is changing, and customers are communicating across more channels than ever before.

Takeaway: Customers expect to be able to reach a real person in your company, be it via a website, social media or the phone. Being responsive to those requests is critical!

Chapter 7

The Best of the Best

The data point

The Top U.S. Companies Rated as Giving Excellent Service in 2018:


  • Wegmans
  • H-E-B
  • Citizens
  • Credit Unions
  • Publix
  • Subway
  • USAA
  • Ace Hardware
  • Dollar Tree
  • Aldi
2018 Temkin Experience Ratings
Did you know

In the past five years, U.S. auto insurance carriers that have provided customers with consistently best-in-class experiences have generated two to four times more growth in new business and about 30% higher profitability than their counterparts with an inconsistent customer focus, in part because satisfied customers are 80% more likely than unsatisfied customers to renew their policies.

McKinsey
An illustration of a person pushing a car up a steep incline
The data point

The Bottom U.S. Companies Rated as Giving Poor Service in 2018:

  • CarMax
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Optimum
  • Medicaid
  • Comcast
  • Hitachi
  • Cox Comm.
  • Charter Spectrum
  • Dollar Car Rental
  • Blue Shield of California
2018 Temkin Experience Ratings
In the stats

73% of companies with “above average” Customer Experience maturity perform better financially than their competitors (compared to 44% of less mature companies).

Temkin Group
Quote

“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Zappos
Fact

72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority.

Forrester
The bright side

Companies that make a concerted effort to improve their customer experience also see employee engagement rates go up by an average of 20%.

McKinsey
Did you know

By industry, supermarket chains provide the best customer experience, while TV and Internet service providers provide the worst.

2018 Temkin Experience Ratings
The bottom line

Companies who invest in great service are coming out on top.

Takeaway: You can differentiate from competition by providing an exceptional customer experience — not just trying to compete on price.

Chapter 8

Great Quotes

Quote

“The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.”

Derek Sivers, Founder, CD Baby
An illustration of a people happily holding ballons that are smiling.
Quote

“'Fabulous Customer Service' sounds user-centered but it’s often just a company-centered focus masquerading as user-centered. … The role of customer service is to support and enable users to not just feel better, but to be better.”

Kathy Sierra, Badass: Making Users Awesome
Quote

“To earn the respect (and eventually love) of your customers, you first have to respect those customers. That is why Golden Rule behavior is embraced by most of the winning companies.”

Colleen Barrett, Southwest Airlines President Emeritus
Quote

“There are many who subscribe to the convention that service is a business cost, but our data demonstrates that superior service is an investment that can help drive business growth. Investing in quality talent, and ensuring they have the skills, training and tools that enable them to empathize and actively listen to customers are central to providing consistently excellent service experiences.”

Jim Bush, Executive VP at American Express
Quote

“Customer service is the new marketing.”

Derek Sivers, Founder, CD Baby
Quote

“It’s very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy
Quote

“We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing.”

Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Zappos
Quote

“Always do more than is required of you.”

George S. Patton

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