Call Center Solutions Featured Article

The Differences Between UK and US Consumers

  By , Call Center Solutions Contributor

While most contact centers, which service small to medium-sized businesses, don’t operate on a global basis, the largest of companies might operate contact center services across national borders. For organizations doing business in both the U.S. and the UK, providing cross-Atlantic customer service may come with a few challenges. Most notably, American and British consumers have some different preferences and reactions when it comes to less-than-sterling customer service.

One thing the two nations do have in common, however, is that rotten customer support costs companies money in both dollars and pounds. Research from UK-based NewVoiceMedia (News - Alert) has found that poor customer service costs U.S. businesses about $41 billion a year, and UK businesses about £12 billion (about $20.1 billion). If you are a business with the distinction of offering lousy customer service on both sides of the Atlantic, that’s a lot of lost revenue. NewVoiceMedia’s most important findings are presented here in this infographic.

That said, there are some differences in how American and British customers respond to a poor customer service experience. British consumers are more likely to defect after a bad experience (50 percent versus 44 percent), but they may disagree about what constitutes a lousy customer experience. Forty-nine percent of Americans hate having to repeat their information to agents, while the same percentage of Britons hate to be kept on hold (though Britons will wait on hold longer than Americans). A similar number of consumers in both nations (58 percent) are willing to write to complain, but they will do so in different ways: a British customer is more likely to send an email, and an American consumer is more likely to complain in a public forum such as social media. Nearly twice as many Americans (49 percent compared to 27 percent of Britons) would tell others about their poor experience.

In essence, American and British customers are just as likely to ditch a company over bad customer service, but Americans will complain about the experience more publicly. British consumers, when faced with a poor experience, are more likely to simply drift away, never to return. While this fulfills a few stereotypes about the two groups, all bets may be off when younger consumers in both nations have more buying power. Younger consumers are more likely to take to public forums and social media to complain, and they have higher expectations of companies when it comes to using technology to provide a personalized and multichannel experience.

Despite small differences  (be sure to pay attention to the quality of your email support in Great Britain, and be sure to monitor social media in the U.S.) the message is the same: offer a bad customer experience at your own peril. Increasingly, even a moderate customer experience isn’t likely to win you any favors. The only hallmark of a successful company today is to “wow” customers every time they call. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee