In our latest study, No Staff, No Stock, No Service, we’re exploring evolving perceptions of customer service in the wake of COVID disruptions and changes. As big companies continue to struggle with inventory and staffing issues, many consumers are leaning on local more than ever.
Big Companies, Big Differences
While consumers are giving more grace to all businesses post-COVID, and most believe poor experiences aren’t necessarily the fault of individual employees, there are some major differences in perceptions of bigger retailers/restaurants vs. local businesses/restaurants.
Customer Service Quagmire
Some larger companies like Costco, Chick-fil-A, and Ace Hardware have always had a reputation for good service and still get high marks for customer service from consumers. Companies like UPS and FedEx also receive credit from consumers for how well they adapted to changing circumstances and took the pandemic chaos in stride. But these businesses are the exception not the rule. For many, dealing with the customer service quagmire that large corporations have set up leads to frustration and decreased loyalty.
The Local Difference
As big companies continue to operate the same way they did pre-COVID, they are falling short, causing customers to turn to local for solutions and a better overall experience. Because smaller, local businesses have so much at stake and thinner margins, they are working harder than ever to provide a good customer service experience. They may also have non-traditional supply chains that allow customers to circumvent shortages. Local restaurants and retailers, in particular, earn praise for their customer service.
That personal connection, seeing the same employees each time you go in, and in turn being recognized or known by name is a significant factor in participants preference for local businesses. Local business employees are also called out for being more knowledgeable in general, likely due to smaller number of staff and less turnover.
Coming Up Next…
How will this shift to local, and the more positive customer experiences consumers are having with local businesses come into play this holiday season? In our next post, we will be sharing insights about customer service and shopping behaviors during the upcoming holiday season.
No Stock, No Staff, No Service is a national quantitative survey in August of 2021 (N=1000) and qualitative focus groups in October of 2021. In this national study, we measured perceptions of customer service before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, causes of positive and negative customer service experiences, industries that excel and/or fall short at customer service, and expectations of customer service post-pandemic.