And one in five say they would even opt for root canal over dealing with customer service.
These are the findings of digital transformation software provider Pegasystems, which polled 12,500 people worldwide — including 1,780 Australians — as part of its report The good, the bad and the ugly: 2019 global customer service insights.
Of the Australian respondents, 1,000 were consumers while 530 others were direct employees and the remaining 250 were business decision-makers.
Breaking down the Australian results, the research found a striking gap between how businesses and customer service employees think they are performing compared with how consumers rate their experiences.
Almost all of the decision-makers (91 per cent) and more than four in five (82 per cent) employees suggested that they offer an “above-average” service experience for their customers.
But just 11 per cent of the consumers polled rated the service they experience as “excellent”.
That findings led Pegasystems to declare that “organisations are out of touch with reality” and are failing to comprehend exactly what it is that their customers expect of them.
Where can business improve their customer service?
For instance, the software provider said that 62 per cent of consumers say that a speedy resolution is one of their most desired outcomes of dealing with customer service, but less than half of business decision-makers (42 per cent) rated this as a critical outcome.
And while businesses are turning to technology to drive efficiency, connections with people are what matter most to consumers, the survey found, with 70 per cent stating that interacting with someone by phone is their preferred method of dealing with customer service, with face-to-face dealings ranking second.
Another common gripe of consumers is inconsistency among cross-channel service provision. Having to switch between channels (such as online and phoning a call centre) or between service agents was ranked as the most frustrating aspect of dealing with customer service.
Slow response times and the overall time taken to resolve issues rounded out the top three problem areas for consumers.
Mistakes proving costly
The disconnect in service offering is proving costly for business, Pegasystems said.
It found that bad service experiences will adversely impact the reputation of a business, with 54 per cent of consumers saying they tell others about a poor experience.
Furthermore, exactly half said they pull the plug on a purchase because of a bad experience with a business, and 76 per cent would take their future custom elsewhere.
Overall, the Australian findings were broadly similar to those found worldwide.
Commenting on the results, Pegasystems’ ANZ vice-president, Michael Evans, urged businesses to “prioritise their customer service or risk being left behind”.
“Somewhere along the way, Australian businesses lost touch with their customers and now need to regain that connection to ensure a positive experience,” he said.
“Customers are the fuel that allows organisations to continue to develop and innovate, so it’s important that organisations use every resource at their disposal to listen to them and make their journey as relevant, timely and seamless as possible.”