Poor Customer Service, By the Numbers

Updated: July 30, 2009

The sample was 2,261 respondents, so the numbers are fairly respectable, and what they paint is the picture of an environment where customers take service very, very personally - as well they should. Taking a day off to wait for an installer means sacrificing some of the compensation from your job - and if the installer fails to show up, it's stealing time from you that you can never recoup.

Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans have waited for some form of service in their homes in the past six months. 82 percent say they wait on average at least 1 day per year in their homes for service or deliveries. 63 percent wait on average two or more days per year in their homes for service or deliveries.

Nearly one of in five consumers (18 percent) has lost wages (i.e., taken unpaid time off) to wait for the cable guy or some other service in their home in the past 6 months. Another 32 percent have taken a vacation day or sick time to wait for the cable guy or some other service in their home in the past six months

Of those waiting around, a vast percentage has been dissatisfied with how they've been treated. 18 percent of them have refused or cancelled a product/service because the service or delivery person was late or didn't show, and 29 percent have left their homes in frustration because the cable guy or delivery person was late. You don't need a degree in mathematics to see how corrosive this can be for the provider's bottom line.

And, while they're losing money, they're also losing customer loyalty. 57 percent say the company providing the service is at fault if the delivery/service is late or doesn't show; only 19 percent blames the actual driver or service technician.

Here's the damning part - and where companies should recognize the competitive value of customer service. 37 percent of consumers believe that the standard wait-window is 4-8 hours because companies "take advantage of the fact that people will most likely wait for the service/delivery because they want or need it," and 27 percent believe that service companies are just "not concerned about the customer's time."

Now, imagine the investments these companies have made in CRM for acquiring leads, selling to customers, and up-selling and cross-selling products to them. What is the ROI of all those things when a failed customer service experience alienates the customer? It's actually less than zero if it drives a new customer away.

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