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Jim Agger
 
April 22, 2015 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | Jim Agger

Is your level of service lagging behind the competition?

Would you frequent a store that provided poor customer service or failed to answer your inquiries? Probably not, and chances are, people who have bad experiences with a tasting room or online store won't come back either. To keep customers coming back, businesses have to offer top-notch customer service.

"Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it's a must do," said Jim Bush, Executive American Express's vice president of world service. "American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service, and they will also tell, on average, twice as many people about bad service than they are about good service. Ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty."

Good experiences = more spending 
​Research shows just how critical the customer experience is to buyers. The American Express "Global Customer Service Barometer" showed the growing importance of out-of-the-park service. Nearly 8 in 10 people have canceled a transaction or abandoned their shopping cart because they were receiving poor service.

Good customer service is a draw for shoppers, and it's beneficial for businesses, too. Almost 60 percent of consumers said they would try a new brand or buy from a new company for better service, and 70 percent said they'd spend an average of 13 percent more with businesses they thought provided an exceptional experience. 

How are businesses performing?
There's definitely room for improvement on the customer service front. The American Express poll showed that 60 percent of people think companies haven't bothered to boost their focus in this area, and more than one-quarter think companies are actually paying less attention to service than they did in the past. 

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that this is just a customer perception issue. Eptica's "2015 Multichannel Customer Experience Study" found businesses are definitely struggling to provide the service their consumers expect of them. 

Companies are far behind where they need to be regarding email responsiveness. Eptica's research showed that only 58 percent of emailed customer queries received a relevant, accurate reply, worse than last year's 63 percent. What's even more troublesome is the time it's taking companies to reply via this channel. Consumers have access to their smartphones and email inboxes all day, and are expecting a timely response.  However, it took retailers an average of 43 hours and 52 minutes to respond to emails. 

How does the food and wine industry compare?
While knowing how companies are doing in general relative to service can be a useful benchmark, it's more beneficial to have an idea of how others in your industry are responding to customer service. 

The Eptica report showed that food and wine companies improved significantly from 2014's report, answering 70 percent of Web-submitted customer questions. This represents a 30 percentage point leap from last year's data. However, email responsiveness remains below par. Sixty percent of companies in this category successfully replied to emailed questions, and took an average of 22 hours to do so. It's evident that the industry is jumping on the social customer service bandwagon without much hesitation; 50 percent of food and wine brands responded correctly to consumers' Twitter questions. 

As customer service remains a key part of gaining and retaining business, wineries will need to offer the best experience and extraordinary service across all channels.

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