Friday Funny: Service Call Debacles Can Cost Businesses Big Bucks

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Comcast James Bond
Cartoon: Farley Katz, The New Yorker

The Comcast phone call from hell has been making the rounds, going viral and shaming the company into issuing public apologies for its atrocious treatment of one lone customer. Alas, there are all too many of these incidents out there, and Comcast is not the only offender. And when Americans waste time dealing with service industry issues during work hours, businesses take a massive productivity hit.

Findings from a recent ClickSoftware study show dealing with service issues is causing more than just frustration. It could be costing Americans $108 billion annually with an individual loss of more than $750 per person. Businesses stand to suffer a yearly productivity loss of approximately $900 per employee due to work time spent contending with customer service inefficiencies. Overall, that’s a $130 billion annual expense to companies nationwide.

“Service industry shortcomings have massive implications—both for consumers and for businesses—as revealed by this survey, so organizations that are taking measures to equip their workforce with tools and analytics to handle customer needs gives them a strong advantage,” said Steve Timms, President, North America for ClickSoftware. “The findings show people want first rate service, they won’t pay extra for it, and more than a third will sever ties if they don’t get it. Businesses need to realize the actual toll poor service quality takes and put a specific focus on optimizing their existing resources in order to serve their customers more effectively and improve their bottom line.”

U.S. Service Industry Consumer Frustration Index

The following information provides key insights into how Americans feel about certain industries and the time spent on service issues. Employed adults who find fault with the service sector each selected their top two most frustrating industries. They then reported the number of hours spent dealing with these two industries over the course of a year when they otherwise could have/would have been working.

Customer Service Chart

  • It’s gonna take time. A whole lot of precious time. As the table above indicates employed Americans are frustrated about dealing with virtually all service industries. At least two in five employed adults who find an industry frustrating have spent at least one hour dealing with the issue that they could have/would have spent working.
    Service Industry Consumer Frustration Index (Credit: PRNewsFoto/ClickSoftware.)
    Service Industry Consumer Frustration Index (Credit: PRNewsFoto/ClickSoftware.)
  • Brands are losing business…big time. Over one-third (35%) of Americans have cancelled their service or stopped using that brand entirely due to a frustrating experience. And a whopping seven in ten Americans (72%) say their frustrations have caused them to take action of some sort. Half (51%) have demanded to talk to a supervisor, while over one in 10 have yelled at the service representative (14%) and voiced their complaints on social media (13%) while smaller numbers have lied to get better or faster service (6%), begged (3%), or cried to the service rep, either real or fake tears (3%). However, seven in 10 Americans (71%) say they would not pay anything more for VIP service or premium appointments.
  • Frustration comes in many flavors. Besides the industries themselves being frustrating, there are also frustrating aspects of actually making and going to the service appointments. More than two in five Americans say waiting for the service rep (44%) and being put on hold while on the phone with the service rep (43%) are among the most frustrating while almost two in five (38%) say it is service representatives who do not know how to fix the problem. Around one-third of U.S. adults say among the most frustrating things is a service rep who doesn’t understand the problem (35%) or who have to come back because the problem wasn’t fixed (32%) while one in five (21%) say it is billing issues and around one in 10 each say it is scheduling the appointment (12%) and calling to make the appointment (10%).
  • Can companies do anything to improve their services? Yes they can. Around half of U.S. adults say companies can provide customers more frequent and exact estimate arrival times via their preferred method of contact (52%) and show they understand them as a customer (49%) to improve their services. Around two in five Americans say companies can proactively update them on the progress of their problem (43%) and share more accurate service estimates by understand the full extent of the job and required part(s) (39%) to improve their services while around one-quarter say companies can provide more opportunity to communicate with service reps (27%), schedule appointments via phone (23%), and schedule appointments via other methods (23%).