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Customers Believe Companies Are Making Them Work Too Hard

By Tracey E. Schelmetic September 29, 2023

In the past few decades, brands have revamped their customer support programs to focus more on self-service. With the advent of interactive voice response (IVR) technology and the Internet, companies became addicted to the perceived short-term cost savings that having customers help themselves seemed to produce.  Even today, the drive is to build bigger, better and smarter self-help solutions that eliminate humans from all but the most complex transactions.

The problem? Customers may be starting to resent how much they’re expected to solve their own problems, and this is dragging down customer satisfaction.

According to the inaugural J.D. Power U.S. Cross-Industry Customer Service Experience Study released last week, the average consumer is spending 18.10 minutes every time they engage with customer service, and approximately 40 percent of the time when using the phone, they need to provide the same information more than once. This high level of perceived effort is dragging down customer satisfaction and customer loyalty across several industries, according to the research organization.

While being too reliant on herding customers toward self-service channels, many companies are making customers seeking live human support wait too long. Overall satisfaction scores drop precipitously if the customer needs to wait five minutes or more to speak to a representative in person or wait five minutes or more on hold. For website and mobile app-based customer service, customer satisfaction scores start to deteriorate after nine minutes.

The new study is the first of its kind to evaluate the complete customer service experience across multiple channels within the industries of investment; insurance; travel and hospitality; telecom; utilities; and other industries. Of all industries measured, telecom yields the lowest customer service satisfaction results in both the wireless and internet segments.

“The goal of elevating the customer experience should be a strategic imperative for all brands,” said Denese Waiters, senior director of customer experience intelligence at J.D. Power. “It is not enough to simply deliver good service. For brands to get a boost in customer advocacy and improve customer satisfaction, they need to consistently strive for great-to-perfect service.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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