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?
|Extremely good||6||1.47 %|
|No opinion||2||0.49 %|
Of the following types of companies, where have you had the best customer-service experience?
|Auto dealers||30||7.44 %|
|Phone companies||23||5.71 %|
|Computer companies||20||4.96 %|
|Chain-store retailers||53||13.15 %|
|Government offices||11||2.73 %|
|E-commerce Web sites||59||14.64 %|
Have you ever quit using a company's products or services because of a bad customer-service experience?
|Don't know||5||1.24 %|
In such situations, have you ultimately given the company a second chance?
|Don't recall||25||6.20 %|
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||54||13.37 %|
|Uninformed customer-service representatives||80||19.8 %|
|Unfriendly customer-service representatives||84||20.79 %|
|Inferior products that require too much handholding from customer service||6||1.49 %|
|All of the above||171||42.33 %|
|I don't have a beef with the customer service I've experienced||9||2.23 %|
During the economic durnturn, do you feel that customer service:
|Got Worse||154||38.21 %|
|Didn't change either way||189||46.9 %|
|No opinion||19||4.71 %|
If given the option, would you want to be a customer-service representative?
|Don't know||14||3.45 %|