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45 million hours a year wasted on inefficient service in the UK

27th Jan 2016
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Britons waste 45 million hours a year trying to combat ineffective customer service, according to a study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Based on fieldwork among 1,000 adults across the UK, the study found that 69% of people are unhappy with the time it takes to deal with customer service departments, but that 50% “can’t face the hassle” when it comes to potentially changing a provider as the result of bad service.

The 45 million hours equates to almost 2 hours per household, and was calculated in relation to the average amount of time Cebr’s respondents were held waiting by customer service reps when on the phone and in person.     

This was particularly prominent when it came to energy, phone, insurance and financial services providers, despite a number of measures having been put in place across all of these sectors in recent years to make switching providers easier.

 “This research shows consumers are crying out for a better service but feel helpless when it comes to making their voices heard,” says Colm Sheehy, managing economist at Cebr.

“It’s clear that many UK consumers are desperate for a service revolution – allowing them to hold energy companies, banks, insurers, and phone providers to account, and to derive value in ways that aren’t purely about price.

“When we consider how much time might be spent on the things we really value – such as seeing family – but is taken up dealing with poor service, it’s not a surprise that so many people now realise that the cheapest company won’t always offer the best value.”

Despite the consumer concern, many businesses in the phone, insurance and financial services sectors are in the process of trying to combat issues around slow service, particularly when it comes to contact centre output.

A recent study from ContactBabel found that over 4% of the UK's working population are now employed in contact centres, and the sector is in a period of robust growth. The finance industry is the largest employer, with over 212,000 contact centre jobs in the sector.    

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By PaulineAshenden
28th Jan 2016 12:20

While these figures are shocking, they are also the tip of the iceberg – consumers spend huge amount of times waiting for responses on other channels, such as email and social media. Eptica research found that the average time it took a brand to respond to email was over 29 hours – hardly helpful to the customer experience. More on these results in this Eptica blog

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Chris Ward
By Chris Ward
28th Jan 2016 16:12

Interesting stuff, Pauline. I think there's a definition to be had around what constitutes 'waiting' for customer service. I'd definitely define being kept on hold on the phone as part of this. Maybe being kept waiting in a store/ shop. But email and social media is more about response time than wait time, I think. Agree that this is also a major bugbear for consumers, though. Social media response times are a major concern.

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