What has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction? According to a recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan on behalf of CSG Systems International Inc., it’s a phone call to a company’s customer service line. The study focuses on customer satisfaction in the cable industry, notorious for poor customer relationships. The threshold for poor customer service is low, in many cases prompting a customer to label a cable operator as a poor customer service provider after only one negative experience.

Regardless of the age or gender of respondents, the majority will switch to another service provider when bad customer service occurs more than 50% of the time. The top 3 bad customer service incidents chosen by respondents were:

  1. Being on hold for an extended period (68%)
  2. Rude/Impolite service representatives (66%)
  3. Being told an issue is resolved when it isn’t (63%)

These results are rather interesting because Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) recently completed a large customer satisfaction study with a client that incurred a similar theme.  Due to the population make-up of the client’s customer, RMS mailed out 4,000 surveys and received well over 700 responses (almost a 20% completion rate).  Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with many different aspects of their customer experience, with one section specifically dedicated to telephone calls to service reps.  Through regression analysis and analyzing different service predictors of overall satisfaction, it was determined that a customer’s experience with a telephone service representative was most likely to impact overall satisfaction with the client. Meaning, if they had a poor experience over the phone, they had poor overall satisfaction with the client.  If they had a good experience over the phone, they had good overall satisfaction with the client.  In most cases.

Why are telephone experiences the driving force to impact overall satisfaction across industries?  The Research Bunker recognizes it could be due to a number of variables including:

  • Issues with customer accounts/services can be handled most quickly over the phone and therefore are a ‘point of entry’ for customers calling with underlying problems or questions.
  • Major issues with customer accounts/service have the need to be handled immediately (for example, calling the customer help line). These telephone experiences carry more weight than other more minor issues that may be handled through email.
  • Depending on the nature of the product/service, instances where customers call service representatives do not happen often (once every few months, once a year, etc.) so customers are more likely to remember their few experiences – good or bad – by phone.

Article is located in the Quirk’s Marketing Research Review | July 2010 Issue | Page 8 | Author Unlisted