Singapore Airlines First Class (747) by Richard MorossAfter losing his own seat to an irate fellow passenger, Barry Kirk was pleased to be bumped up to first class. That is, until he overheard a flight attendant complain to a colleague about just how much he detested serving first class fliers . . . When so much of customer loyalty depends upon the service experience, can any business afford to overlook the critical role of customer service on brand value?

Kirk is solution vice president of consumer loyalty with Maritz Research, a marketing research company whose data on customer behavior shapes the business strategies of market leaders worldwide.

Among the key findings of the company’s research on the impact of consumer experience, says Kirk:

  • 43% of customers who defect from a brand do it because of a service interaction.
  • Of those defectors, 77% blame employee attitude for the poor experience.
  • More importantly, the large majority, 83%, of customers who defect because of poor service tell someone else about it.

“A company can do many things right with a customer, only to have it all unravel in one bad experience with a brand ambassador,” wrote Kirk for Promo Magazine.

Whether you’re the owner of a local hardware store or the director of a national electronics chain, these are numbers and insights to take to heart.

Read more from Kirk in “First Class to no Class: Learning Loyalty from a Flight Attendant” — Promo Magazine, May 17, 2011. Image credit: Richard Moross (Flickr).