An astonishing 90 per cent of UK consumers describe customer service centres as ‘ineffective at dealing with issues’ in a new survey conducted by Whistl.  With over 50 per cent of customers having felt angry about their customer service treatment, it is clear that a significant number of brands are getting their customer service wrong.


Why Are Businesses Getting Customer Service So Wrong?


Over a third of consumers would completely give up on a brand if it had poor customer service.  So, why are businesses still getting it so wrong?  Whistl’s survey highlighted some of the main grievances with customer service.  Wait time was a key factor, as customers are generally happy to wait an average of 2 and a half minutes on a call.  However, 34 per cent of consumers who are left waiting for longer than 10 minutes are likely to hang-up and never call-back (a key way to prevent this is to tell the caller their place in the queue/their average hold time).

Wait times can be a key factor to customer disgruntlement or potential lost sales opportunities. Scalability and flexibility within your customer service team is therefore key to ensuring you can manage these scenarios successfully. Having the agility to deploy agents to handle peak volume or periods of unexpected spikes in contacts will be pivotal to ensuring consistent great service.

Another criticism from consumers is repetitive hold music, which 74 per cent of people believe is extremely annoying. International customer service teams were another area of significant consumer complaint with language frustrations (16 per cent), rigid script reading (13 per cent) and lack of geographical understanding (10 per cent) mentioned recurrently.


What’s the Solution?


It is important that companies recognise what the best form of communication is for their customer demographic as 62 per cent of over 65’s would choose the phone over any other form of contact however, 18-24-year-olds favoured email (47 per cent) over social media (30 per cent). Traditional mail is no longer a favoured form of customer service as only 10 per cent said they’d prefer to communicate via letter.

The survey results showed that live chat is a key method of communication. 36 per cent of consumers said that being able to ask questions in the middle of an online purchase through live-chat would increase their decision to purchase a product. Consumers prefer this method because they can multi-task.  Live chat is also beneficial to businesses as they can utilise their agents more because they are able to chat to several consumers at once.


What Do Whistl Say?


Director of Marketing and Communications at Whistl, Melanie Darvall, said:

“Our research has shown that paying 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.”


What Do Spark Response Say?


Trevor Flack, Contact Centre Manager at Spark Response said:

“Customer service agents must be empowered to resolve customers queries. Good customer service goes beyond answering a call within 20 seconds. Giving the customer service agent the autonomy and support to resolve the customers query first time is pivotal to providing a great customer experience that your customers will expect and deserve.  Simply answering the call will not suffice and it’s imperative that agents are attentive, empathetic and have a genuine and deep desire to engage and help customers.”

“Ensuring staff who are your brand ambassadors are up for the challenge and are wishing to pursue customer service roles as a career rather than a stopgap is paramount to creating a culture that can deliver real results.  Customer service agents should not be bound by rigid scripting and encouraged to freely engage and converse with customers whilst efficiently and professionally achieving the organisations goals.”




Whistl’s survey highlights just how important customer service is to consumers and to customer retention.

The fact that that 36% of the customers surveyed would be more likely to purchase if they could contact customer services whilst browsing, clearly demonstrates the positive impact this could have on your business.

If your business still hasn’t quite mastered this, we would highly recommend speaking to an outsourcing expert who can provide contact centre services provided by great people – Spark Response.