Satisfied customers are the lifeblood of any business. It takes a lot of money to acquire a new customer,  so business owners need to do what is necessary to ensure these customers comeback. Many retailers try to encourage repeat business through sales and promotions, but one shouldn't underestimate the importance of good customer service. A recent survey showed that good customer service played a significant role in getting customers to come back to a business.

Modern technology has increased consumer expectations for things like selection, cost, shipping times and more. While the constant barrage of social media posts can make it seem that no one is happy with the customer service they receive, that couldn't be further from the truth. American Express recently released its 2017 Customer Service Barometer, which showed that customers are happier than in recent years with the quality of customer service exhibited by retailers.

According to the report, eight in 10 Americans (81 percent) report that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations for service, compared to 67 percent in 2014. In fact, 40 percent of consumers say businesses have increased their focus and attention on service, a significant increase in just three years (up from 29 percent in 2014).

"More companies are realizing that delivering great care is not just the right thing to do; it also makes great business sense. Seven in 10 U.S. consumers say they've spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service," said Raymond Joabar, Executive Vice President of American Express' servicing organization. "Service is an increasingly important competitive advantage for companies, both large and small, that make doing business easy and put their customers' needs first."

A key to providing good customer service for modern-day consumers is providing ample choice for contacting customer service. For example, more than six in 10 U.S. consumers in the American Express survey sai that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool such as a website (24 percent), mobile app (14 percent), voice response system (13 percent) or online chat (12 percent).

It's important to remember that technology isn't a complete substitute for human interactions. People are willing to use self-serve options when it's quicker, but, as the complexity of the issue increases, such as with payment disputes or complaints, customers are more likely to seek out a face-to-face interaction (23 percent ) or a real person on the phone (40 percent).

The value of good customer service will become more important over the next few weeks. Following all the Christmas shopping and gift giving, it's time for returns. This can be a busy and frustrating time for retailers, but ensuring that employees give good customer service in these situations can build lifelong relationships with customers.

The study shows the value of good customer service is terms of the benefit to the bottom line. US consumers say they're willing to spend 17 percent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14 percent in 2014. As a group, Millennials are willing to spend the most for great care (21 percent additional), followed by men (19 percent).

The American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer has a lot of good information about what good customer service means to different demographics. It's something business owners and retailers should read. And for more recent marketing studies, read this article on defining luxury in for modern audience.

Published on: Dec 18, 2017