by Alex Palmer | February 26, 2013
Strong customer service can make a huge impact on the bottom line, according to new research. A study from computer technology company Oracle finds that poor customer relations can cost brands as much as one fifth of their annual revenue, with 95 percent of executives stating that a great customer experience is key to improving business performance.

The report, “Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era,” draws on the responses of 1,342 senior-level executives from 18 countries who weighed in on the role that customer service plays in their respective organizations.

While 93 percent of business executives said that improving customer experience was one of their top priorities in the next two years, 37 percent of companies are just beginning to put formal customer experience initiatives in place, and just 20 percent considered their customer experience initiatives to be “advanced.”

“This report demonstrates that organizations around the globe and across many industries are beginning to understand the real business impact of not offering great customer experiences,” said David Vap, group vice president for Oracle, in a statement.

The findings have added significance since 71 percent of respondents strongly agreed that customers have more power today than they did three years ago, with more than half believing that customers will go to a competitor after a bad customer experience. 

Brad Smith, executive vice president for Sage North America, which specializes in customer relationship management (CRM) software, believes that building customer loyalty requires a slow-and-steady approach.

“Ask yourself these questions: How difficult are we do to business
with? Do we have faulty processes, policies, touch points, and web
interfaces that are driving away traffic, or costing us
engagement/stickiness or impacting our ability to perceive what customers
need/want from us?” Smith said. “If we can't get the simple to be simple
and do the ‘Brilliant Basics’ right every day, it doesn't matter how many
‘Magic Moments’ there are.”

The executives pointed to several challenges in delivering these “brilliant basics,” in particular inflexible technology, siloed systems and organizations, and insufficient investment as challenges to improving customer experience.

“A good customer experience strategy requires fundamental organizational changes,” said Graham Mansfield, senior director of CRM for Oracle ECEMEA. “Successful initiatives that have improved the customer experience span people, process and technology.”

To read the full report, click here.