Australians are more likely to be loyal to small businesses offering quality services and products than those offering freebies or bargain-basement prices, a new survey has revealed.
The survey of more than 1800 Australians conducted by business review site Word of Mouth Online, asked respondents to prioritise the things that would encourage them to use a business again within three service categories: personal care, food service and tradespeople.
The survey found fewer Australians are tempted by discounted meals and two-for-one drinks, with 93% rating good quality food and beverages as very important reasons to return to a restaurant, café or bar.
Quality of service was also an important factor with 79% of respondents rating attentive and courteous staff highly.
When it comes to trades, Australians value high expertise and workmanship over all else, with 93% saying these are crucial in determining whether they will engage services from these businesses again.
Of those surveyed, 81% say good communication and friendly service are also very important.
The beauty industry’s tendency to offer fast service, free samples and discounted treatments are not the drawcards they once were.
Expertise and quality are far more important, with 87% of those surveyed saying these influential factors would encourage them return to hairdressers, beauticians and massage therapists.
WOMO founder Fiona Adler told SmartCompany business owners should focus on offering quality products rather than wasting resources on offers that may not entice customers.
“Consumers have been disappointed when they go for the cheapest price, they get a lot more value for their money when they hunt down better quality,” she says.
With this shift in consumer priority, Adler says investing in areas to improve quality of service and products is crucial for the survival of small business.
“Businesses should be investing in staff training and using premium materials rather than cheap gimmicks and promotions,” she says.
Adler says the most important thing businesses can do is look after their existing customer base.
“They need to care about the service they’re providing and to ensure each customer has a good experience,” she says. “Our research shows people don’t mind if they have to wait or pay more or drive further for something. Quality equals loyalty.”
Adler says the proliferation of consumer-generated reviews online is contributing to the choices customers are making.
“The consumer-business relationship is really changing. There’s more information at our fingertips and customers are getting savvy,” she says. “There’s a trade-off between quality service and value. We’ve got the information to make the choice, so businesses should play to their strengths rather than race to the lowest price.”