Banks are more dedicated than other service providers to giving their customers the best possible service, according to a survey by market researcher Colmar Brunton.
One-third of respondents to the Colmar Brunton Customer Experiences Survey said they had "a particularly good" experience when dealing with their bank over the past 12 months. ASB topped the survey, with six other banks - Kiwibank, Westpac, BNZ, the National Bank, ANZ and TSB - featuring in the top 10.
Banks contributed 37% of all "particularly good experiences" cited by survey respondents, up from 24% five years ago.
The survey was of a "nationally representative sample" of 1,020 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over and was done during July and August last year.
Colmar Brunton said respondents cited the following companies when asked to name one business they felt was the most dedicated to providing customers with the best possible service:
2. Air New Zealand
6. National Bank
7. New World
Dick Brunton, co-founder and chairman of Colmar Brunton, said ASB had been a leader in customer service and has been first to establish a virtual bank branch via Facebook, through which customers' can book an appointment with a virtual staff member online and have an internet-based conversation.
"There is also strong evidence that a customer-driven approach is better for a company’s bottom line than a purely profit driven one," said Brunton.
The world’s best brand builders had a "relentless commitment" to excellent customer experience.
“Organisations that authentically put the customer first build more brand value for their shareholders than those who put shareholders first,” Brunton said.
"Overall the personal customer experience in New Zealand has improved in the past five years. That’s mainly because of a significant reduction in negative customer experiences to 59% this year, from 72% in 2006 when the survey was last conducted."
Brunton said a bad customer experience could be dangerous to corporate reputations and earnings.
"Respondents are twice as likely to tell others about a bad experience than a good one. They also have more tools to do so with the proliferation of social media," Brunton added.
“The adoption of social media means that consumers are sharing their experiences, good and bad, through a forum which lives on well after the original incident has been forgotten."
Stories, plus detail respondents offer in the explanations of their negative experiences demonstrate "a real viral danger" as stories take on more meaning than the initial experience as they are passed on.
"Pulling out all the stops to remedy a situation is the biggest driver for great customer experiences," said Brunton.
In contrast to banks, Colmar Brunton said telecommunications companies had a long way to go with their customer service. One in five survey respondents reported a negative experience when dealing with their telco, with phone companies contributing one-third of all bad customer experiences. Op top of this, "particularly bad" telco experiences outnumber "particularly good" ones by four to one.
“Banks and airlines have done a great job of ‘onlining’ and automating the service experience in a way that feels both personal and customised,” said Brunton.
“But businesses should be wary of going down the automation track without considering how it feels to the consumer. Telcos are widely criticised for automating their phone systems in a way that is cold, impersonal and actually makes it harder for consumers to interact with them.”
He warned that how firms handled the transition to online and telephone customer service was increasingly a key factor in how consumers' perceived them.