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TCN Consumer Survey Reveals Nearly Three-Quarters of Consumers Will Abandon a Brand After Just One Bad Customer Service Experience

ST. GEORGE, Utah – JUNE 19, 2023 – TCN, Inc., a global provider of a comprehensive cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs, and collection agencies, today released the results of its third annual “Consumer Insights about Customer Service” survey. The national survey, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by TCN, reveals that Americans are very likely to abandon a brand after just one poor customer experience but are just as likely to become repeat customers after a positive experience. Additionally, for the third year in a row, consumers’ number one preference for communicating with a company’s customer service department is speaking with a live agent.  

With nearly half (44%) of the survey respondents stating that they have posted an online review about a poor customer service experience, 75% of Gen Z (18-26) have posted an online review after a negative experience, while only 24% of baby boomers (59-77) have done the same. Over half of millennials (27-42) and Gen X (43-58) have also posted about a negative experience.  

“We’re Not Gonna Take It”

According to the survey, 73% of Americans are likely to abandon a brand after just one poor customer service experience. This is the second year in a row this number has increased as only 42% of respondents stated this in 2021, which jumped to 66% in 2022. With nearly three-quarters of consumers now willing to abandon a brand when customer service is poor, patience for poor customer service by consumers is running perilously thin.   

Love is a (Customer Service) Journey

Marketing departments develop various campaigns to increase brand loyalty and encourage repeat purchases, but customer service also plays a significant role here. When asked how likely or unlikely they were to make a repeat purchase with a brand after a positive customer service experience, 81% said they were either very likely or somewhat likely to do so.  

Press Zero to Speak to An Agent

Speaking to a live agent comes out on top yet again when asked to choose their top three methods of communicating with a company’s customer service department. Talking to a live agent by phone was the number one choice for the third year in a row, with 53% of people choosing this option – and up from 49% in 2022. In fact, the top three options have remained the same all three years, with email coming in at number two (52%) and online chat with a live agent at number three (45%). The preference for dealing with a live agent remains consistent; when asked what is most important when contacting a company’s customer service department, 52% of Americans said the ease of getting through to a live agent.   

Other key findings include:  

  • Upgrade, Please: 69% are willing to pay more for brands with good customer service. This is especially true for the younger generations, where 87% of Gen Z and 86% of millennials said so.  
  • I’m in Love and I Don’t Care Who Knows It: More than half (51%) post online about positive customer service experiences. This is a substantial increase from 31% just two years ago.  
  • I Know a Guy: Besides posting about good experiences, good customer service can also lead to additional business, as more than three-quarters (76%) said they would recommend a brand after one positive customer service experience.  
  • Hurry Back: Expectations for customer service departments are increasing, especially regarding hold times. When asked how long they would be willing to wait on hold, 35% of respondents said 2-4 minutes; however, in 2022, 35% said 5-7 minutes, so consumers are increasingly less willing to wait on hold. 
  • Bueller? Bueller?: One factor that may lead to consumers being less willing to wait on hold could be how long they feel they are having to wait. While most people are willing to wait between 2-7 minutes (58%), an overwhelming majority (90%) are not willing to wait longer than 10 minutes, yet 58% of respondents have said they have waited more than 10 minutes, with 16% waiting 31 minutes or longer!  
  • It’s a Match: When asked what they consider the top qualities of a customer service agent to be, the top three answers remained the same compared to 2022. “Ability to solve my issue” was the top choice, with 59% valuing this, followed by 54% picking “willingness to help” and 47% choosing “knowledge about the product or service.”  
  • Healthcare Gets an A: Consumer satisfaction with the customer service departments within healthcare organizations is high, 65% to be exact. This satisfaction level is up from 59% in 2022. However, this sentiment varies across generations, as only 50% of baby boomers expressed satisfaction with healthcare customer service, while 77% of millennials are satisfied.  
  • Financial Institutions Excel: Banks and financial services continue to do very well regarding customer satisfaction, with 72% expressing so, up from 60% in 2022.  
  • In Technology We Trust: Americans are learning to trust technology more when it comes to resolving customer service issues. When asked what action they were likely to take when there is a long wait time, the number one choice, chosen by 44%, was to be put in a queue and called back. 
  • It’s Me, Hi, I’m the Problem (Solver), It’s Me: When it comes to resolving customer service issues, the younger generations are embracing self-service and technology options more than the older generations. When asked how satisfied they were with using self-service options, 68% of people overall were satisfied, but 91% of Gen Z and 85% of millennials expressed satisfaction. When explicitly asked about chatbots, the overall satisfaction was 58%, but 82% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z said they were satisfied using digital tools.  
  • Can I Help You?: Directing calls to the right person within customer service is essential. Having to talk to several people to resolve an issue was the number two frustration for the third year in a row, with nearly half (49%) choosing this. Additionally, having to deal with someone who can’t resolve a customer’s issue remains a top frustration yet again, with 44% of people citing this. However, not getting through to anyone at all might be even worse as the top frustration for the second year in a row (50%) was waiting on hold for a long time and then being disconnected. 
  • Taylor Swift While I Hold, Please: No one likes waiting on hold, but why not make it as enjoyable as possible? When asked about the top genre choices for on-hold music, pop music topped the chart, with 40% of Americans choosing this option. Following closely behind was country music with 34%, and rock and roll and classical came in at a tie, both with 29%.  

“More than ever, this year’s survey highlights the importance of providing top-notch customer service within contact centers when it comes to brand loyalty and referrals. It is clear that one single interaction with a customer can make or break a relationship with a brand,” said McKay Bird, marketing director at TCN. “Technology within the contact center can go a long way in supporting understaffed workforces, but there is also no full replacement for the human touch, as we see for the third year in a row. We are also encouraged to see big industries like healthcare and finance continuing to improve year after year regarding customer service. This is a trend we hope to see continue.”   

To view the full survey results, download TCN’s eBook, 2023 Consumer Insights About Customer Service.

Survey Methodology 

Commissioned by TCN, the 2023 “Consumer Insights About Customer Service” survey was conducted by OnePoll, a marketing research company specializing in online quantitative research and polling, between March 3-6, 2023. Feedback was obtained from 1,000 U.S. adults.

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