The average UK adult spends a 'fraughtnight' - or nearly two whole weeks - every year waiting for customer service, making complaints, and using digital communications to direct their anger at companies that provide poor service, according to a poll by KANA Software.
An astonishing two weeks each and every year - equivalent to the amount of time typically taken for a summer holiday - are lost by the average adult consumer, just trying to get the service they need or expect from private and public sector organisations.
Electronic communication is increasingly important as a conduit for complaining in the UK, enabling consumers with their famous British reticence for face-to-face confrontation to voice their frustrations through other platforms. Only 15% of those polled said they had complained to a company face-to-face, while 25% used multiple channels to complain, and 10% used three or more channels.
KANA suggests that technological solutions to time wasted on complaining are being overlooked by tens of thousands of companies and public sector bodies. Time wasted could be eradicated if companies improved their IT systems to avoid duplication and direct enquiries to the person best equipped to handle each problem or request.
"Our vacations are offset by annual 'greycations' invested into the mundane process of waiting to be served and trying to get things put right," remarked Kenny Bain, general manager EMEA for KANA. "Many customers find themselves speaking to company staff in several different countries in an effort to resolve simple problems. The focus for companies in the past ten years has been cost reduction and many functions, as a result, have been moved offshore. There is no real problem with this, but it has stifled service organisations rather than unify them."
Customer inertia is no longer the certainty it has long been perceived to be by market-leading service providers. Mobility and social media have created a forum for debate about service and a reservoir of advice for shoppers seeking better experiences. Millions of consumers take to Twitter every day, and few show any reluctance to complain if they aren't getting the service they desire.
The poll found that the average UK consumer had used 7.4 channels of electronic communication during the previous six months. Among 18-to-24 year olds, this figure rose to 8.4 channels. The figure was lowest in the 65+ age bracket, but even this age group used 6.2 methods of electronic communication, on average.
While Twitter was used by only 24% of the UK adult population during the previous six months, the top six methods of electronic communication were as follows:
- Email (90%);
- Mobile phone calls (83%);
- Text messages (79%);
- Through company websites (75%);
- Fixed-line telephone calls (69%);
- Facebook (used by 67%).
One surprising finding was the extent to which the 65+ age group has embraced new communication methods, with 93% using email, 83% using fixed line telephones, 51% using Facebook (51%), and 11% using online chat.