Australians among the unhappiest customers in the world, convinced businesses do not care about them and finding themselves increasingly disappointed by the level of customer service they receive, or rather, don't receive.
An international study across 10 countries exploring public attitudes towards customer service has found that 40 per cent of Australians feel that businesses fail to meet their expectations. Only the French are more dissatisfied.
The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer also shows that Australians would happily spend, on average, an extra 12 per cent if it meant they received better service.
Two-thirds of consumers have abandoned a purchase because of a poor service experience in the past year, but more than half have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences.
Lisa Vehrenkamp, the managing director of American Express Australia, said the survey was a wake-up call for Australia that customers were not feeling appreciated and businesses were missing out.
"With businesses competing for sales at a time when consumers are shopping around for the best deal, outstanding customer service can be the deciding factor in getting customers through the door,'' she said.
Vehrenkamp said the tough economy over the past three years meant businesses often felt obliged to cut back on training staff to deliver good customer service, which ultimately further damaged their business.
''Sometimes businesses have to do things like cut customer service staff and cut investment in training and I think that has a bad effect and I don't think businesses are realising that,'' Vehrenkamp said.
She said research released late last year also showed Australians liked to complain, but mainly to each other, and were often reluctant to voice their concerns to the offending restaurant or shop.
''They are less likely to call it out in the moment but are more likely to walk out and tell friends about their terrible experience and with social media much more prevalent, we see a lot more things on Facebook and different sites.''
Vehrenkamp said Australia's lack of a tipping culture was seen as a contributor to particularly bad levels of customer service.
She cited her own experience of waiting on tables in the US while at college, where she earned just A$2.36 ($3.03) an hour.
''You rely on tips so the service is more directly related to the money the server gets,'' she said.
- Sydney Morning Herald