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Left on hold – Two-thirds of Brits frustrated at long customer service waiting times, Maintel research reveals

More than a third (37.2%) of Brits are dissatisfied with the customer service experience they receive, according to new research from Cloud and Managed Services provider Maintel.

These poor experiences are leading some to turn the air blue – 26% of Brits aged 18-24 and 25-34 admit to swearing at a call centre agent, compared to just 8% of those aged 65+.
The research of 2,000 Brits was conducted during lockdown and explored people’s experiences with customer services teams and contact centres – how they would prefer to get in touch, whether their experience has been good and where their frustrations lie.

It’s clear that businesses are facing a difficult challenge to get things right. Call centres are having to adapt to changing demands of the consumer, while facing their own battles of keeping the customer service function running during lockdown while many agents work from home.

Some businesses are getting it right and reaping the rewards. When contacting a business in the hospitality sector, for example, 41.1% of people think their issues will be dealt with quickly and efficiently. And more than one in ten (12.4%) Brits said that they were ‘very satisfied’ with their last customer service experience across all sectors.

But businesses can’t ignore customers’ frustrations. The research revealed that more than a third of people (38.6%) in total admit to losing their temper with a contact centre agent at some point or another. Meanwhile, 44.4 per cent of Brits have hung up in frustration and 53.9% have asked to speak to a manager.

The research findings could, however, explain why many Brits are so frustrated when speaking to customer service departments. Calling a business is often a last resort – with 60.9 per cent of people trying to solve the issue themselves. People will turn to online research (50.7%), livechat (16.4%), online FAQs (10.7%), asking family or friends (7.9%) and chatbots (5.7%), before ringing a contact centre.

When they do eventually pick up the phone, several issues are causing frustrations. The research revealed the top six most annoying parts of the customer experience, as below:

• Holding on whilst waiting for a call to be answered – 61.2%
• Not being able to speak to someone directly – 42.4%
• Repeating information – 44.6%
• Being passed from agent to agent – 42.9%
• Not having the issue resolved – 32.9%
• Having to enter account and address details – 20.1%

The research also revealed average waiting times. On average it takes 22.4 minutes to achieve a satisfactory outcome and for 24.3 per cent it takes over half an hour. Only 14.1 per cent of calls are solved in under five minutes

Rufus Grig, CSO at Maintel, said: “Over the past couple of years, consumer demands have evolved rapidly. For many businesses, the traditional contact centre is no longer fit for purpose. Consumers are increasingly looking to self-serve and use digital tools, rather than ring or email a contact centre.

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly put extra strain on the customer services function, but the pandemic has also revealed how valuable a great customer service team can be. Customers need the digital tools they are increasingly turning to assist with their queries, whether that be FAQs, livechat or chatbots, and businesses must ensure when they do eventually call on the phone or interact live with an agent on the emerging channels, the time they have to wait on hold is kept to a minimum. Staff must also be provided with all the information they need to deal with queries quickly and efficiently.

“Getting the customer service right results in improved customer loyalty and profitability, so it’s well worth the investment.”

Please visit www.maintel.co.uk for more information.

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