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Unsatisfactory service: Two thirds of customer complaints go unresolved

14th Jul 2013
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Brands may be increasingly attempting to differentiate on customer experience but new research has warned that the majority of consumer expectations still aren’t being met.

Aspect’s latest Consumer satisfaction benchmarking report, which surveyed 1,000 UK-based consumers found that a third of consumers (32%) said they had a bad customer experience in the last year, with two instances on average.

And of those 67% of unhappy customers went on to make a formal complaint as a result – 21% choosing to do so over social media – a staggering 63% said that their complaint went unresolved or claimed that any resolution that they did get was unsatisfactory.

Worryingly for brands, 30% said a poor customer experience would drive them to take their business elsewhere whilst 13% of would switch due to unresolved complaints, the survey showed.

Interestingly, the survey also revealed just how consumers expect brands to satisfy their expectations. According to the figures, the majority (55%) said they would rather have a quick resolution than a company going ‘going over and above’ to make them happy, such as compensation or discounts, with this trend more popular among over 55s.

Mark King from Aspect said: “With a UK population of 62 million people over the age of 16, there are 9 million people that have made an unresolved complaint to a company in the last year. That’s an alarming 14.5 per cent of the UK population that is extremely unhappy with the way that their providers have treated them. This is more than a wake-up call for organisations to do something about it.

“Despite being happy in the main with the customer service that we receive in the UK, it seems we are a nation of complainers, and companies just aren’t dealing with this properly. Mass adoption of mobile devices, developments in contact centre technology and strong media interest in a tough economy means that our expectations with the companies that we deal with are rising significantly.

“And we are more likely to air our frustration with them if things go wrong, because on the face of it, it’s a simple thing to get right. Customer-facing organisations – from local council and energy suppliers through to retailers and loan providers – need to recognise that there is a link between customer satisfaction and effort, and complaints arise when companies do not deal with problems effectively, and with clear customer communication."

Research also out this week from eDigitalResearch revealed that companies are not satisfying customers with speed of complaint resolution and response. According to the figures, just 44% of consumers that had made a complaint said that they heard back from the company they were contacting within 24 hours, whilst another 12% said that it took over a week for the company to contact them. 

Derek Eccleston, commercial director at eDigitalResearch, said:“If a person is picking up the phone or sending off an email to complain, then chances are that they’re an unhappy customer. Their contact with a brand is a prime opportunity to impress these unhappy customers and connect them back into the business but these results suggest that, more often than not, brands are passing this opportunity by.”

Earlier this year, the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) also declared the UK a nation of complainers. Based on a survey of over 3,000 consumers, the ICS showed that whilst the overall number of problems faced by consumers when buying goods or services has fallen, consumers are complaining more than ever.

The figures showed that people-related issues such as staff attitude and competence caused the majority (62%) of problems eliciting a complaint whilst the quality or reliability of goods and services accounted for just a third (34%) of complaints.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the ICS, said: “Our research suggests that customers are most satisfied when complaints are dealt with immediately. As a result, organisations need to ensure that all customer contacts are handled consistently well, and that customers are not passed from pillar to post.”

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