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ZOZI Advance is the fastest growing web-based reservation, payment, and customer management platform used by thousands of activity, tour, and event merchants.

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In the past few years, huge corporations have discovered something small businesses have known for a long time: Customer experience matters. Now, there are Chief Customer Experience Officers. There are corporate retreats and seminars on the topic. Consultant firms charge by the hour to help these businesses reconnect with the customers they had taken for granted.

Customer experience is no less important at the local level. In fact, it’s more important when margins are narrow and your customers are your neighbors. Here are 10 stats about customer experience that show just how vital it is, no matter your business size:

1. If customers aren't satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people.

Bad news travels fast. So it’s important to aim for customer satisfaction, even if their initial experience was negative. Learn how to turn a negative experience into a positive one in this eBook.

2. 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.

The bad news: given these numbers, 100 negative experiences could generate 195 bad impressions. The good news: 100 positive experiences could generate 432 good impressions. So do your best to resolve negative experiences, but don't forget to encourage those who have good experiences to spread the word.

3. 90% of respondents who read online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced their decision to buy.

Not only will positive experiences generate good impressions, they're also likely to influence buyers. When you're the one running the business, it’s easy (and important) to focus on the negative, but thankfully potential customers are more interested in the positive.

4. 51% of customers prefer to have self-service options on a website.

It may seem contradictory, but sometimes good customer service means removing human contact from the equation. Self-service options that provide flexibility and ease of use allow customers to book how and when they want, plus they have the added benefit of allowing for a leaner staff.

5. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. 

The key word there is “unresolved.” Customers who complain are usually looking for a response. Even if the situation can’t be changed, just knowing the complaint was heard can help resolve the issue both for the dissatisfied customer and for potential customers who encounter those reviews online.

6. Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a business.

Social media provides a great opportunity to take your customer care to the next level. It’s a good idea to be accessible on your social media pages by responding promptly to private messages and comments to let customers know you’re listening.

7. One happy customer can equal as many as nine referrals.

Based on our experience, that’s a conservative number. If you encourage happy customers to refer others, and even incentivize referrals, you can increase this number. The best time to ask for reviews and referrals is right after the activity, either on-site or in a follow-up email.

8. Three out of four people have spent more with a company because of a history of positive experiences. 

This stat shows that customer experience is an ongoing journey. It’s not limited to the first interaction or any single interaction. There’s a cumulative effect of good experiences over time.

9. 60% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just a year ago. 

Customers expect more from businesses, regardless of size. They expect interactions with your business to be a seamless, flexible, customizable process they can go through on their own terms.

10. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator. 

The more options customers have, the more businesses will have to compete on how well they treat their customers. The guy next door might offer a similar activity to yours, or may have better equipment. He might even be a little cheaper. But if you provide a good customer experience, you'll come out ahead.

The customer experience starts when a customer is still researching your company. And in a way, it never really ends. You have continual opportunities to improve that experience. If you provide a little extra care throughout the journey, you can create happy customers who will be ambassadors for your business.

For more help navigating the jungle of customer experience, download The Map to Positive Reviews for Tour & Activity Operators.