Customers becoming more vocal than ever

The ever-growing amount of outlets for customers to voice their opinions through has led to an increase in the amount of feedback - both positive and negative - being left by consumers in 2011, according to a recent Spherion Staffing Service survey.

The ever-growing amount of outlets for customers to voice their opinions through has led to an increase in the amount of feedback - both positive and negative - being left by consumers in 2011, according to a recent Spherion Staffing Service survey.

Researchers found that 47 percent of respondents were likely to share a great customer experience with a representative of that business, compared to 40 percent in a similar study done last year.

Furthermore, it was found that 17 percent will express their opinions using social media platforms, while 15 percent will write an assessment using an online review site such as Yelp.

"Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion's Senior Vice President of the franchise and licensee division.

In addition, cutting corners with customer service usually results in decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and a negative experience can spread just as quickly as a positive one.

For example, 49 percent of consumers were "very unlikely" to purchase from a company that received a poor recommendation from a friend or someone they trust. Furthermore, 36 percent stated that they were willing to write the company directly with their negative experience, 25 percent would take to social media and 19 percent would write an online review.

"Taking emphasis off customer service may seem like a good idea for the bottom line when budgets get tight, but in the long run, it's infinitely more expensive to get people to trust you again," adds Mazur.

The issue of trust is a hot topic, since it's become harder than ever to regain the business of someone who's been wronged.

While respondents varied in their need to receive either an apology, refund or coupons in return or being mistreated, 46 percent stated that it would take all three in order for them to shop at such a store again. Even worse, 15 percent said that nothing could be done to regain their trust.

On the other hand, 97 percent noted that a great experience would coerce them into returning a second time.

According to Richard Shapiro, Founder and President of The Center for Client Retention, gaining repeat business in 2012 can be done by conforming to upcoming trends, Convenience Store News reports.

For example, younger family members will become equally or more knowledgeable about available products than their parents. Plus, environmentally friendly items will remain popular, more language options will be necessary as more companies offer toll-free numbers, and mobile opt-out options will lower customer frustration with spam or unnecessary emails.