TORONTO — Canadians’ legendary politeness could be keeping businesses from retailers to cell phone providers in the dark about how much they are screwing up.
Despite having the highest degree of digital literacy in the world, Canadians are far less likely than others around the globe to badmouth companies online when they have had a negative customer experience, according to a new survey from Accenture.
After poor service from retailers, banks or cable providers, only 17 per cent of Canadian consumers posted negative comments online, the survey found, far below the global average of 28 per cent.
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That’s the case even though 49 per cent of Canadians switched to an alternate retailer, telecom provider or bank in the last year because of a bad customer experience, and 59 per cent cited customer service as their top reason for switching.
“We are quieter and more polite as a culture,” said Berkeley Warburton, Toronto-based managing director of advanced customer strategy at Accenture, on Monday. “We might quietly sip away at that corked bottle of wine without saying anything. Our friends south of the border would be more likely to send it back. What we do is just never go back to that restaurant.”
Accenture also found that after Canadians have a bad experience related to the marketing and sales practices of a company, only 18 per cent of them posted negative comments online, compared with a global average of 30 per cent.
The findings seem to contradict the marketing industry maxim that people are more likely to offer words of complaint online than they are to offer praise.
In general, Canadians seem to be more reluctant to share their feelings, whether they be positive or negative, about their interactions with a company: 71 per cent of us never write anything on social media sites about company products, customer service deliveries or personal experiences with companies, versus 50 per cent globally who do not post such information.
In addition to being reluctant complainers, Canadians also appear to expect better customer service than their global counterparts.
The bulk of your unhappy customers are not complaining to you, they are just silently switching.
“We are very digital and engaged customers (and) have very high expectations about customer experiences, and we will just quietly slip away,” if those are not fulfilled, Warburton said.
Fifty-six per cent of Canadians expect customer support representatives to be knowledgeable and better trained than they are, compared with 43 per cent globally.
That might not be welcome news to Canada’s oft-maligned telecom providers, who pay exceedingly close attention to the varying level of customer complaints through their call centres and the industry’s churn rate, a measure of subscriber turnover. The churn rate for residential high-speed access subscriptions rose in 2014 to 1.79 per cent from 1.75 per cent and fell in business subscriptions to 1.37 per cent from 1.67 per cent, according to the Canadian Radio television and Telecommunications Commission’s 2015 Communications Monitoring Report.
“While the squeaky wheel gets the grease and those vocal detractors are noisy, they don’t represent the bulk of customer sentiment,” Warburton said. “The bulk of your unhappy customers are not complaining to you, they are just silently switching.”