It’s a familiar scenario to most customers. You receive an erroneous bill from a service provider, so you pick up the telephone, wait on hold and finally get a customer service rep. After entering your account number or phone number into the company’s interactive voice response (IVR) system, you have to repeat the information when an agent comes on the line. You explain your problem, only to be told that the agent you’re speaking to can’t help you. You’re transferred. Wait on hold again. Repeat your customer number or telephone number to the next person who comes on the line. When you’re finally assured the problem is straightened out, you hang up the phone. Until (inevitably) you receive a bill the following month with the same error on it.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Some in the industry call it the “Groundhog Day” nature of customer service, after the popular Bill Murray movie in which a small-town newscaster is forced to repeat the same day over and over again. According to a report conducted by Populus Research and commissioned by KANA Software, American customers spend 384 minutes lodging official complaints each year: that’s nearly six and a half hours. KANA calls it the “hidden customer cost of doing business.” If you buy an appliance or a service, you may pay one price up front, but a considerably larger price when you factor in the time you must spend fixing problems. According to the study, repetition is our biggest complaint.
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“When asked about consumers' experiences during their most recent complaint, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of those polled said they had to repeat themselves to different members of staff to pursue resolution,” wrote Kana in a summary of the report. “In fact, getting full resolution took an average of three attempts, according to those surveyed, with more than one-quarter (27 percent) of consumers using multiple contact channels to do so. Seventeen percent of those surveyed indicated they had fallen into the customer service "death spiral" where they had to expend more than one full hour repeating themselves.”
So how does all this extra work affect customers as buyers? The report didn’t cover the business impact of reduced customer satisfaction as a factor of sub-par customer service experiences, but a recent survey from an independent industry analyst firm found that a majority of customers (71 percent) said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
Still, KANA research tells us we should count ourselves lucky: the average British customer wastes more than two weeks each year (cleverly dubbed a “fraughtnight”) complaining about faulty products and services.
The report was drawn from a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and over in August of this year.
Edited by Alisen Downey