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The £11 billion customer service scared away

New research from NewVoiceMedia, a leading global provider of cloud technology, which helps businesses sell more, serve better and grow faster, reveals that UK companies are losing £11 billion a year due to poor customer service.

Since NewVoiceMedia’s initial 2013 survey, the number of UK consumers who report leaving a business due to inadequate customer experiences has actually decreased, from 50 percent to 42 percent. However, the top reasons given for leaving were consistent with the previous study and included: feeling unappreciated (44 percent), unhelpful/rude staff (35 percent), being passed around to multiple people (33 percent), not being able to get answers (27 percent), being fed up of queuing (27 percent) and not being able to speak to a person (25 percent).

“With revenue being transferred between companies at an alarming rate, this research highlights the considerable impact that customers have on a business’s success”, said Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia. “Customer experience is the key differentiator, and by doing it well, organisations can drive the customer acquisition, retention and efficiency that make leading companies successful”.

Calling out the contact centres

A majority of respondents (49 percent) indicated emailing as their preferred method of communication with a business, yet 61 percent considered calls to be the quickest way of resolving an issue. However, consumers flagged being kept on hold as the top reason (48 percent) they dislike calling companies. Respondents also noted not being able to speak to a “real person” straight away (42 percent), having to repeat info to multiple agents (39 percent), the cost of calling (38 percent) and needing to navigate multiple menus (36 percent) as off-putting. On average, respondents indicated they would only hold for up to 11 minutes before hanging up.

Consequently, only 27 percent suggested calls were the most effective way to resolve an issue. Email (27 percent) and social media (18 percent) were other channels respondents touted as “effective” in settling customer service issues.

According to one respondent, a preference for non-telephone communications stems from email’s “ability to thoroughly document the problem and [lessen the] chance of a misunderstanding”. Others explained that social media often spurs response because the channel is public facing.

How customers respond

Faced with poor customer service, more than half (52 percent) of respondents would write to complain, 47 percent would never use the offending company again, 40 percent indicated they’d change suppliers, 20 percent would post an online review, 16 percent would tell friends or colleagues not to use the company and 16 percent would complain publicly via social media.

On the contrary, if provided with good service, customers would be more loyal (68 percent), recommend the company to others (59 percent), use the company more frequently (34 percent) and spend more money (30 percent). Only 10 percent claimed good service would not affect their relationship with the business.

  • Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, said, “There is a disconnect between how companies think they are doing and what customers are reporting. Customers are more service savvy than ever before, and companies are training customers to expect more tailored experiences. The companies that deliver great customer service have set the benchmark and with each improvement push the baseline bar higher”.
  • Nancy Jamison, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, commented, "Today's consumers want consistent, personalised and proactive customer service, not silo'd interactions. Change the journey and you change your win and retention rate”.
  • Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst at COMMfusion LLC, said, “Social media can be a double-edged sword – it can be an easy and efficient way for consumers to get customer care, but it can also become an open forum for discontentment”.
  • Micah Solomon, author, speaker and customer experience consultant, commented, "Through every demographic slice, good service is one of the clearest predictors of customer loyalty, willingness to recommend, and hesitancy to switch. And in our easy-to-switch reality, it is one of companies' most important weapons to achieve these all-important goals".