We’ve written several articles recently about the importance of customer service, and how business such as field service that rely on customer interaction can parlay great service (and the customer goodwill it builds) to increase sales and brand loyalty.

A recent article in Forbes from Zack Urlocker, Zendesk’s chief operating office, citing a report from Genesys, a company that makes contract and call center software, highlights just how costly bad customer service can be — $338.5 billion (with a “b”) costly. The report analyzed multiple industries in 16 countries to find which ones have the happiest customers, and why. The top-performing industries were real estate (96 percent), IT services and consulting (95 percent) and healthcare (94 percent).

“It is not unexpected that Real Estate is at the top,” writes Urlocker. “This industry is built on personal relationships and is an example of where self-service has proved to increase customer satisfaction levels.”

Urlocker makes a great point. These agents, after all, build their careers on being responsive, available, helpful and genial. And it’s a lesson that field service firms should certainly take to heart.

It’s essentially the Best Buy model. The company can’t compete on price with the likes of Amazon and other online retailer, so it’s doing what Amazon can’t: relying on its intimate, face-to-face relationships with customers to make money.

Urlocker picked out some of the more compelling numbers from the report:

As drawn from the survey, the following are global averages across all companies in all industries:

  • Customer satisfaction rating of 86%
  • 630 inquiries per month requiring human interaction
  • 2,600 customers per month who found answers in self-service forums
  • First response times of 23.6 hours

Great customer service can be a huge boon to businesses, and can even provide stodgy behemoths such as Best Buy with an entirely new business. The flip side, of course, is that poor customer service can break a company.

Click here to download a free whitepaper, “Five Steps to Make Field Service Profitable.”