Its time to get 'touchy feely'


Friday February 27 2009


If marketers want loyalty, it’s time to get ‘touchy feely’


If marketers are looking for customer loyalty during the economic downturn, then paying attention to their ‘customers’ feelings may be a prime strategy if findings of the second annual KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse are anything to go by.


KiwiHost New Zealand’s Managing Director, Jared Brixton, said that comments from respondents made it very clear that price and product are of secondary importance to how a customer is made to ‘feel’ during the shopping experience.


Between August and November 2008 more than 600 New Zealanders were surveyed on their perceptions of customer service. They were encouraged to tell their stories and name names.


More than 400 companies were named by respondents in the KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse, and of those, the ASB received the most positive mentions (26), followed by Westpac with 22, National Bank 14, ANZ 14 and Harvey Norman in fifth, followed by AMI Insurance.


The telecommunications industry continues to offer the worst customer service in the country.


The KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse also found that New Zealanders tell between 4 and 6 people about a bad customer service experience, but only between one and three people get to hear about their good experiences.


Approximately 80% of respondents said they only complain ‘occasionally’ or even less frequently than that, while Gen Y staff copped the most gripes about poor service – however, Gen Y were also the most tolerant of poor service.


The three things New Zealanders hate the most about bad customer service are inefficient telephone systems, retail staff who are more interested in chatting amongst themselves and no one taking responsibility for following up on inquiries.


The KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse also casts doubt on the assertion by some that Kiwis are too tolerant of poor service – 75% of respondents said they would give a company only one or two chances before taking their business elsewhere.


“More New Zealanders, 58.7% in total, were either ‘neutral’, ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with levels of customer service – that’s virtually two out of three people who are not impressed. If companies want to prosper or even survive during the downturn, they must look to how they treat people. Imagine how much more business they would do if three out of three people were happy,” Mr Brixton said.


Managing director of JRA (leading workplace survey and analysis specialists), John Robertson, said the survey demonstrated that getting staff engaged is a key marketing strategy because it’s critical to achieving good customer service.


“In customer service everybody is a giver and a receiver. We can be so demanding and critical in terms of the service we receive, and yet it is extraordinary how many times people forget those experiences when it comes to their turn to deliver service. The extent to which they are aware of that disconnect is profoundly influenced by how they feel about the place they work.


“Nobody has a problem recalling bad experiences, but recalling when we were personally responsible for delivering high levels of service and what motivated us to do that, that’s where the things we call ‘drivers of engagement’ come into play.


“When people feel a strong sense of belonging and personal satisfaction in their job, and they believe in what the organisation is trying to accomplish, then they are much more likely to be a giver of good service as well as somebody who demands that treatment from others.


“Right now, customers are more reluctant than ever to put their hands in their pockets. Companies are using massive discounts on price as a strategy to retain and attract business, but there’s plenty of evidence that the best way to retain, and attract new customers are practices that engender customer loyalty – price reduction doesn’t do that,” said Mr Robertson.


For the second year running, the top three factors that defined good customer service from the customer’s perspective were:


1. Show a willingness to help me;

2. Listen to me and understand what my needs are;

3. Take responsibility to ensure my needs are met.




For further information contact:


Jared Brixton

Managing Director

KiwiHost New Zealand

Telephone: (03) 343 5007 (office)

                   021 903 110 (mobile)

John Robertson

Managing Director

JRA (NZ) Ltd

Telephone: (09) 378 2003 (office)

                   0274 992 229 (mobile)





Established in 1989, KiwiHost is New Zealand’s most experienced and best resourced customer service training organisation with expert facilitators located in 18 offices countrywide. KiwiHost facilitators deliver more than 20 specialised ‘great customer experience’ programmes, regular scheduled workshops (including in-house on demand), to a wide variety of organisations and industries. Industries currently served by KiwiHost include the health sector, professional practises, retail, government departments, local authorities, tourism, couriers and freight, not-for-profit organisations and trades and services.


JRA (NZ) Ltd


Established in 1993, JRA (NZ) Ltd is New Zealand’s leading workplace survey and analysis specialists.  Its products include Employee Engagement Surveys, External Customer Surveys, 360 Feedback Surveys, Internal Service Surveys and other customised survey projects.  With offices in New Zealand and Australia, JRA has worked more than 500 organisations in the last three years across both the private and public sectors and many different industry types.