When it comes to customer service, most people agree on a couple of things: They aren't very satisfied with the level of attention they get now -- and they wouldn't want to be the person whose job it is to keep customers happy.
Those are among the findings of our May 17 Reader Survey.
Some 77% of the more than 400 people who responded characterized their customer-service experiences over the past 12 months as either fair or poor, vs. the 20% who said their experience had been good. Some 38% said that service had worsened during the economic downturn, but 47% said that it remained unchanged, and 10% think it improved.
Given a list of seven types of companies to rate, some 28% of respondents said they get the best service at restaurants. The next-highest finishers, in descending order, were: e-commerce Web sites, chain-store retailers, auto dealers, phone companies, computer companies, and government offices.
NO SECOND CHANCE. The people who responded don't have much patience with bad service: Some 94% say they've stopped using a company's products or services after a bad experience, some 57% say they don't give an offending company a second chance (though 37% sometimes do), and 76% complain when they've been maltreated.
The biggest beefs with customer-service operations are unfriendly or uninformed reps, plus slowness in dealing with a problem. Logically, given how demanding they are as consumers, some 62% of those who replied wouldn't want to be a customer-service rep, vs. the 34% who said they would like to be, or at least would give the job a try.
Here are the complete details of the survey, which wasn't a scientific poll, since anyone who wished to could participate:
Taking into account all of your experiences during the past 12 months, how would you rate the level of customer service you've experienced on average?
Of the following types of companies, where have you had the best customer-service experience?
E-commerce Web sites
Have you ever quit using a company's products or services because of a bad customer-service experience?
In such situations, have you ultimately given the company a second chance?
When you have a bad customer-service experience, do you complain to the offending party?
What's your biggest beef with customer service (assuming you have one)?
Slow response time
Uninformed customer-service representatives
Unfriendly customer-service representatives
Inferior products that require too much handholding from customer service
All of the above
I don't have a beef with the customer service I've experienced
During the economic durnturn, do you feel that customer service:
Didn't change either way
If given the option, would you want to be a customer-service representative?