For most of my career, I have assumed the common wisdom of service recovery: that more people share their negative consumer experiences than their positive experiences. That is why delivering excellent customer service and creating customer satisfaction - and at a minimum recovering well from negative service - is mandatory for businesses.
However, as reported by Conversation Agent's Valerie Maltoni (with advisory board members Beth Harte and Anne Barcelos), "people are actually more active in telling their friends about a positive experience."
The 2010 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer reported:
[...] customers are spreading the word willingly and widely when they experience good service. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, customers are more inclined to talk about a positive experience than complain about a negative one. Three-quarters (75%) are very likely to speak positively about a company after a good service experience in contrast with 59% who are very likely to speak negatively about a company after poor service.
Additionally, the American Express survey confirms the majority of consumers (57%) say they put more trust in negative reviews on blogs and in social media.
So customer service is still important - but the pay-off from world class service is increasing. Also reported by Conversation Agent, a Harris Interactive survey conducted for RightNow Technologies found that 40% of people began purchasing from a competitive brand simply because of their reputation for great customer service. Personally, I used to buy shoes from Nordstrom's because of their customer service - but now I buy them from Zappo's because they have exceeded my expectations even more than Nordstrom!
Have you ever posted about great customer service? Have you ever switched brands because of a company's reputation for great customer service?