What are customers' most common and biggest gripes about customer service? Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a survey to find out. Consumers were asked about their experiences with customer service in the past year and what complaints they had. Here are their top answers (customers were allowed to choose multiple options):
- Can't get a person on the phone: 75 percent
- Rude or condescending salesperson: 75 percent
- Got disconnected: 74 percent
- Got disconnected and could not reach same representative: 71 percent
- Transferred to representative who can't help or is wrong: 70 percent
- Company doesn't provide customer service phone number, or makes it difficult to find: 68 percent
- Long wait on hold: 66 percent
- Many phone steps needed: 66 percent
- Repeatedly asked for same information: 66 percent
- Proposed solution was useless: 65 percent
- Unsure whether on hold or disconnected: 62 percent
- Can't speak with a supervisor: 62 percent
- Phone menu doesn't offer needed option: 61 percent
- Voice-recognition system works poorly: 61 percent
- Salesperson is too pushy/makes sales pitch for unrelated products or service: 60 percent
Consumers clearly have a lot of complaints. How can you eliminate these issues? Here are some suggestions.
- Make sure customers can easily reach a live person for assistance, whether by phone or by online chat. If you don't have enough staff in-house for this, consider outsourcing customer service. Whatever you do, don't hide your company's customer service phone number, or require customers to fill out an online form on your website to get service.
- Simplify your automated phone system as much as possible. Ideally, don't make customers go through more than one or two levels of number-punching to reach their destination. Avoid having customers input information such as their account number if you're just going to ask them for that information when they reach a rep; people hate to feel like they're doing something useless.
- Empower your customer service employees. Creating an online knowledge base of company information that will help customer service reps resolve common issues is a great way to ensure that every rep has the information they need to do their jobs. Hold regular meetings with reps to go over tough issues they faced and how to solve them so that reps can learn from each other.
- Always take a phone number from the customer when starting a customer service call. This way, the rep can call the customer back if they get disconnected. Before transferring a call, tell the customer who or what department they are being transferred to, and give them a direct number to reach that person or department if they get cut off during the transfer.
We've all been on the receiving end of poor customer service. Take a moment to think about what kind of experience you'd like to have when you call a company, and make sure you give your customers that same feeling.