Jeff Toister is the author of Service Failure: The Real Reasons Employees Struggle with Customer Service and What You Can Do About It. Jeff is a customer service expert with more than 20 years of experience serving customers at the highest level. Today, Jeff is President of Toister Performance Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm that helps companies improve customer service.
He has worked with companies big and small from Fortune 500 firms to government agencies, and even small businesses like his local plumbing company. His innovative solutions have helped clients improve customer satisfaction, sales, and efficiency. We’re pleased to have Jeff as a Voiance contributor. You can follow him on Twitter or read his blog here.
Some topics lend themselves to endless debate among friends.
Who is the greatest baseball player of all time? What is the funniest movie ever made? Which country has the best customer service?
We may never agree on the first two questions. The good news is we can settle the third thanks to the latest Zendesk Customer Service Benchmark.
Here’s a guide to the top 20 countries with the best customer service along with insight you can use to make your customers even happier.
Zendesk’s rankings are based on customers’ responses to actual surveys from more than 25,000 organizations in 140 countries. They rolled up all of their data to identify where customers are happiest with the service they receive.
Here’s the top 20 countries from Zendesk’s 2015 Q2 edition, along with the average customer satisfaction rating from companies in that country:
- Belgium, 97.8%
- Norway, 96.6%
- New Zealand, 96.3%
- United Kingdom, 96.2%
- Canada, 95.8%
- United States, 95.6%
- Australia, 95.5%
- Italy, 95.2%
- South Africa, 95.2%
- Finland, 95%
- Ireland, 94.7%
- Netherlands, 94.6%
- Sweden, 94.3%
- United Arab Emirates, 94.1%
- Russia, 93.6%
- France, 93.6%
- Mexico, 92.6%
- Switzerland, 92.5%
- Denmark, 92.2%
- Germany, 92.2%
Inside the Ratings
There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind with these ratings.
First, the ratings only reflect companies that use Zendesk customer service software. The good news is you get ratings from actual customer interactions from a wide range of companies. The bad news is they don’t necessarily reflect the views of customers who don’t interact with companies that use Zendesk.
The second caveat is Zendesk uses a Yes or No rating system rather than a 1 – 5 rating scale. That means that 97.8% of customers surveyed in Belgium, for example, simply indicated they were satisfied with the service they received.
One more insight stands out. People who live in the top 20 countries for customer service tend to be generally happy.
The 2015 World Happiness Report ranks the general happiness of citizens in countries around the world using data from the Gallup World Poll. Comparing this list to the top 20 customer service countries revealed that 14 are also in the top 20 on the World Happiness Report. Three more countries are in the top 30.
Here’s the list of Top 20 customer service countries again along with their rank on the World Happiness Report:
- Belgium (19)
- Norway (4)
- New Zealand (9)
- United Kingdom (21)
- Canada (5)
- United States (15)
- Australia (13)
- Italy (50)
- South Africa (113)
- Finland (6)
- Ireland (18)
- Netherlands (7)
- Sweden (8)
- United Arab Emirates (20)
- Russia (64)
- France (29)
- Mexico (14)
- Switzerland (1)
- Denmark (3)
- Germany (26)
Why Does This Matter?
There’s a practical application for this data aside from winning bets with your friends.
Customers’ perception of your company isn’t just influenced by the service you provide. It can also be influenced by factors that have nothing to do with you.
In one study, researchers Scott Wiltermuth and Larissa Tiedens discovered that people tend to be more judgmental when they are upset or angry. This makes them more likely to nitpick every service interaction. The opposite may also be true – customers are more forgiving of minor mistakes when they’re in a good mood.
A study conducted by Maurice Schweitzer and Francesca Gino revealed that angry or upset customers are also less open to ideas from others. This is a challenge because so much of customer service involves suggesting solutions.
So much of customer service is focused on what we do for our customers rather than how we want them to feel. Agents can develop tunnel vision around solving a problem and completing the transaction.
This data suggests that emotions are much more important. Customer service reps should take just a moment to empathize with customers who are upset, frustrated, or angry.
Then, and only then, should they turn their attention to solving the problem at hand.