HKBU business survey reveals the importance of customer appreciation amid the COVID-19 pandemic

On 29th April, HKBU’s Department of Marketing partnered with the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACE) to announce the survey results of the “Appreciation Drives Service Excellence under the COVID-19 Pandemic” project, attracting media and guests.

HKBU business survey reveals the importance of customer appreciation amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The survey found that customer appreciation enhanced the performance of service industry professionals during pandemic. The project aims to better understand the culture of fostering customer appreciation and its effectiveness in driving frontline employees’ service excellence against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by Prof. Henry Fock, Department Head, and Prof. Kimmy Chan, Professor of Marketing, the findings suggest that while service industry employees are facing increasing workload and work pressure during the pandemic,  there is not just ‘suffering’, but also ‘empathy, support, and care’  expressed by  their supervisors, colleagues, employers and customers. As suggested by Prof. Chan, “the performance of the service sector has been improved with the support and care from different stakeholders during the pandemic. Concrete appreciative actions have even led to stronger resilience among customers with appreciation experience and those appreciated employees. We’d recommend the service sector and all stakeholders to collectively work on promoting the ‘Culture of Customer Appreciation’ in Hong Kong”.

The four key drivers to motivate customer appreciation are product quality (42%), service quality (39%), convenience of the appreciation channels (11%), and customers’ personal psychological factors (9%). During the pandemic, the top three industries receiving the most customer appreciation are clinic/medical (20%), home delivery (18%), and café/ restaurants (15%).

Other than verbal compliments, which are the main way for customers to express appreciation, the findings show a wider adoption of digital channels for showing appreciations during the pandemic, with 43% of customers with expressing appreciation using Facebook comments or “likes” to convey gratitude. “The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-platforms to show appreciation,” added Prof. Fock, “customers aged 51 years old or above are now also more open to e-services, the service sector and the Government should thus consider allocating more resources to strengthen the digitalisation of the service industry”. 

Source: HKBU Scool of Business