Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue

National Customer Service Survey Report: The Customer Frustration Index

Our newest National Customer Service Survey report is a close look at three specific ways companies both drive up the cost of their customer service and needlessly frustrate customers in the process. We analyzed over 8,000 customer interviews after customer service calls to eleven different companies over the last 18 months, and discovered some interesting facts:

  • Making it harder to reach a person is almost completely ineffective as a strategy for increasing customers' use of self-service.
  • Customers who have to call multiple times to get what they need are just as satisfied as first time callers if they can pick up where they left off from the earlier calls. However, repeat callers who have to start over from the beginning are extremely dissatisfied.
  • Customers who use self-service by their own choice are more satisfied than callers who spoke to a person. Customers who stay in the IVR despite needing to talk to a person are extremely dissatisfied.

These findings are perhaps not surprising, but very few companies take them into account when designing their speech and IVR systems. We found that between a fifth and a third of callers to the companies in our sample experienced at least one of these problems. That makes these design issues collectively a major driver of customer dissatisfaction and poor resolution of service calls.

More details and complete statistics are in our Executive Summary, available for download on the Vocalabs website.

Pushing Customers into Self-Service

I don't think it's any secret that some companies "hide the ball" in customer service, and made it hard to reach a person in hopes that customers will use self-service instead. Most industry experts agree that this is backwards thinking that went out of style with Duran Duran, but it still happens.

But does it work? How often will a customer successfully use self-service despite being frustrated by an inability to reach an agent?

As part of our new National Customer Service Survey report we took a close look at this question. The answer surprised me, and it might surprise you, too.

The answer is: For all intents and purposes, Never.

Among customers who (a) reported that it was hard to reach an agent AND (b) did not speak to an agent, only 5% reported that they got what they needed on the call.

Companies who intentionally make it hard to reach an agent believe customers will start out trying to reach a person, find it difficult, then successfully use the IVR. This use pattern does not exist to any meaningful extent. Instead, customers start out trying to reach a person, find it difficult, then eventually either reach a person or hang up in frustration (perhaps to call back later).

So why do so many companies keep making it hard to reach a person? Three reasons:

  • They think it should work.
  • It looks like it works when customers hang up without talking to anyone (in reality, most of them will probably call back later).
  • They don't bother to measure customer opinions about self-service.

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