What Are Consumers’ Top Customer Service Irritants?

August 20, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer Service & Experience | Customer-Centric | Featured

ConsumerReports-Most-Irritating-Customer-Service-Pain-Points-Aug2015Almost 9 in 10 consumers have contacted customer service at some point in the past year, according to a recent survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The study found that poor experiences abound, with half of respondents reporting having left a store without making an intended purchase because of poor service, and 57% hanging up the phone without resolving their issue. So what are their top irritants?

The survey identified numerous pain points and asked respondents to rate them on a 10-point scale, from “not annoying at all” to “tremendously irritating.” The top irritants in terms of the percentage “highly annoyed” by the practice, were:

  • Not getting a live person on the phone (75%);
  • Customer service being rude or condescending (75%);
  • Getting disconnected (74%);
  • Getting disconnected and being unable to reach the same rep again (71%); and
  • Being transferred to a representative who can’t help or is wrong (70%).

By comparison, while a majority find sales pitches and overly pushy salespeople to be irritating, these aren’t quite as frustrating.

Good customer service is particularly important given that a majority (53%) of US customers have respectful and knowledgeable representatives can calm angry customers. That’s notable in light of a study from Mattersight released earlier this year that found nearly two-thirds of US consumers who contact customer service centers are frustrated before they even start talking to a representative.

Other results from that survey indicated that a majority of respondents want call center agents to acknowledge the importance of their problem. That and an apology seemingly can go a long way: in a global survey conducted by SDL, customers who had returned to a company after a bad service experience were most likely to attribute their return to the company owning the failure and admitting its mistakes (29% share) and receiving a genuine, personalized apology (22% share).

About the Data: The Consumer Reports data is based on a survey of 1,016 US adults, and the MatterSight data on a survey of 1,000 consumers.


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