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August 26, 2019 | By

Would You Rather? Study Finds Consumers Would Rather Watch Paint Dry or Give Up Sex Than Call Customer Service

The preferences and demands of the modern consumer can be hard to predict.  One thing that most seem to agree on, however, is that calling into a customer service contact center is extremely painful.  We recently conducted a survey in conjunction with OnePoll that looked at the good and bad of today’s customer service experiences and how these interactions impact the way consumers engage with brands.

We surveyed 3,000 consumers worldwide and found that almost everyone agrees that dealing with customer service is one of the most painful experiences in our day-to-day lives.  On average consumers reported spending about 25 minutes waiting on hold each time they called into a contact center and cited this as the most frustrating part of the customer service process.   The process is so painful that 32% of US consumers said they would rather give up sex for a week than call and wait on hold for service or support.  And that’s not all.  Consumers equate waiting on hold for customer service with waiting in line at the DMV – and even the super clichéd “watching paint dry.”  The only thing consumers seem to hate more is sitting in traffic.

On the flip side, what makes consumers happy?  The answer is, having an empathetic agent.  Consumers who felt that their customer service agents really understood and cared about their situations were more likely to give word-of-mouth referrals and show brand loyalty.

So what else did we find?

It’s all about convenience, not hassle

An underlying theme that resonated from the findings was the lack of convenience in today’s customer service experiences.  In fact, one-third of respondents said they would pay to be moved up in the customer service queue, which points to the desire for guaranteed speedy and efficient service.  Regardless of whether a “customer service as a premium” model takes off, it’s evident that customers want a better way to engage on customer services issues. Most respondents (60%) said if a company gave them the option to self-serve (i.e. FAQ, chatbot, etc.) they would select it as a first option to resolve an issue. In fact, 47% of consumers reported using a chatbot to troubleshoot problems in the past.

Customers want friendly, not fake

When it comes to dealing with customer service representatives, compassion and understanding are critical factors in delivering a positive experience. Forty-nine percent raked “Encountering an employee that listened and responded with empathy and kindness” as one of their top five positive customer experiences. That said, more than one-third of respondents noted that having a customer service agent that was seemingly too nice or fake was frustrating to deal with. The results underscore the importance of providing customer service that’s both honest and clear.

Frustration is Felt on Both Sides

The survey found that 37% of respondents have had the misfortune of dealing with a grumpy employee, while another 28% have gone to the extreme of getting into a heated argument with a customer service representative. These insights may be indicators of underlying frustrations, as agents are under immense pressure to meet customer expectations, realistic or not.

To root out these negative experiences, it’s critical that businesses empower their customer-facing employees with the adequate tools, training and resources to handle customer requests and provide a more satisfying service experience.

Good Customer Service Leads to Good Business

At the end of the day, not all customer service experiences are bad. Most consumers said they have had positive customer experiences in the past, – and when those happened, consumers paid it forward through brand loyalty (62%), referrals (54%) or sharing positive reviews online (53%).  And that’s good news.  Companies that prioritize creating an authentically good customer experience – and empower their employees to create those experiences — can see a positive impact on their bottom line.


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