It’s a fact: customers like to gripe

The harsh reality of the customer service world is that customer service teams tend to do more harm than good. Research by the authors of “The Effortless Experience” shows that any customer service interaction is four times more likely to drive disloyalty than to drive loyalty.

If you want to fully understand customer loyalty, one question you really need to consider: What kinds of experiences have the biggest impact — both positive and negative?

They found that customer response to positive and negative customer experience is in direct contrast to customer response to a positive or negative customer service experience. Fully 71 percent of people who have positive product experiences engage in word of mouth, while only 32 percent of customers with a negative product experience want to tell other people about it. Poor customer service experiences are much more likely to create negative word of mouth — a 65 percent likelihood, to be exact — compared to only a 25 percent likelihood that a customer will spread positive word of mouth about excellent customer service.

And the bad experiences get passed along to more people. Forty-five percent of the people who had something positive to say about a company told fewer than three other people. By contrast, 48 percent of people who had negative things to say reported that to more than 10 people.

While all of this might sound a little depressing at first glance, it’s actually some valuable knowledge you should use as you rethink your strategy, the authors state.

“By any objective measure, customer service is a huge driver of disloyalty — and the negative experiences that service tend to create get amplified in the public arena. It’s clear that the role of customer service, therefore, is not to drive loyalty by delighting customers, but to mitigate customer disloyalty.”

How, exactly, do you do that? The answer is in the name of the book — focus on making the customer experience effortless.