Poor customer service is one of the biggest complaints consumers have about companies and it is one of the forces that drives them away. Yet, while many companies say they take aggressive measures to improve the experience, they intentionally employ tactics that frustrate consumers (offshore out-sourcing of call centers, imposing long wait times, or creating a redundant structure that forces callers to constantly repeat information). Not surprisingly, studies show that these are the behaviors that push customers away.

A recent survey from Invoca, a call analytics company, found that bad over-the-phone customer service damages a brand’s image and negatively affects customer loyalty, retention, and ROI, all of which translate into a diminished bottom line. After a bad phone experience:

  • 74 percent of consumers say they take their business elsewhere
  • 70 percent say they complain to others (friends and family)
  • 53 percent say less than five minutes is the longest they will remain on hold
  • 30 percent say they will leave a bad review
  • 24 percent say they will announce their dissatisfaction on social media (but fewer than 20 percent of retailers will respond to this platform)

All this despite the assertion of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index that the better customer satisfaction scores are, the more predictive they are of future (positive) consumer behavior.

The Invoca survey appears to validate these results that as customer service improves, businesses experience increased sales, greater customer loyalty, improved word-of-mouth advertising and referrals, and lowered customer acquisition costs.

  • Almost 80 percent say they would become a repeat customer
  • 60 percent indicate they would spend more on future purchases

A parallel study by Inside Sales.com found that while many SMBs fail to respond to consumers in a timely manner, consumers themselves are saying this is a critical mistake as half of them will send their business to the company that is the first one to contact them, delivering a triple digit conversion rate to a quick phone response.


Sterling, Greg. “Report: Bad Phone Experience Will Send 74 Percent of Consumers To A Competitor,” Marketing Land. November 12, 2015.