Customers want to speak to a human on customer service issues, new research shows

UK consumer confidence in modern customer service centres is incredibly low with a whopping 90% describing them as ‘ineffective at dealing with issues’ in a new survey. It’s also one of the main causes of consumer irritation with brands, as more than 50% have seen red over their customer service treatment.

Customer service can be seen as a necessary evil by many businesses but it’s something to get right as over a third of consumers say they’ll give up on a brand if their customer service is poor. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, maintaining a good relationship with your consumers should be top priority.

The survey, conducted by delivery management company Whistl, reveals that consumers are happy to wait on a call for an average of two and a half minutes. Despite this, consumers are often left waiting for more than 10 minutes, causing many to give up with 34% admitting that if they hang up they won’t ever call back.

Consumers are more likely to stay on hold if they’re told their place in a queue or the average hold time. But make sure you avoid repetitive hold music as 74% of people said this was highly annoying.

Make sure you have a customer demographic profile of your audience because 62% of over 65s would choose the phone over any other form of contact while surprisingly, 18-24-year-olds favoured email (47%) over social media (30%). Traditional mail has fallen out of favour in dealing with customer services issues with only 10% saying they’d prefer to communicate via letter.

Dealing with international customer service teams was also a major area of consumer complaint with language frustrations (16%), rigid script reading (13%) and lack of geographical knowledge (10%) among the top issues.

If you’re looking to convert more consumers, live chat should be among your arsenal. 36% of us said that being able to ask questions in the middle of an online purchase would increase our decision to buy. Consumers prefer the method because they can multi-task while businesses can make the most of their operators being able to chat to several consumers at once.

Melanie Darvall, director of marketing and communications at Whistl, said: “Our research has shown that playing lip service to dealing with customer issues swiftly and easily leaves a bad impression with consumers.  It will ultimately hit your ability to operate.  So, it’s common sense to ensure they have a good experience when dealing with your company.

“It’s important to have the tools available to meet the needs of the demographic of your customer base and to engender a ‘can-do’ culture within customer service departments, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, via social media or on live chat. It was surprising to see just how varied the overall levels of satisfaction are when it comes to the support companies have to offer.

“Companies need to continually work to meet their customer needs throughout the journey, from the moment of engagement and purchasing, through to returns and managing any issues.“