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Poor Service Drives Rapid Customer Breakups

Poor Service Drives Rapid Customer Breakups Credit: Nobelus/Shutterstock

Breaking up is hard to do.

That is, unless you're breaking up with a company over its poor customer service and insufferable automated phone system. In that case, as a recent survey shows, breaking up is surprisingly easy to do. And it can happen almost immediately after only one bad customer service experience.

In a recent survey of 3,500 people conducted by customer engagement service provider [24]7, four out of five respondents said one instance of bad customer service would cause them to cut ties within a week. Of those, 1,800 survey respondents reported leaving and finding a new company on the very same day they received the bad service.

While the importance of good customer service may not be a particularly surprising finding, the speed with which a consumer leaves one company and moves to another raises questions about the nature of the customer in 2015. One of these questions is whether, and to what degree, the concept of "brand loyalty" exists across different industries. Do consumers still feel a meaningful connection with the brands they choose to consume? And if so, is the connection they feel with Delta Airlines the same as the one they feel with Abercrombie & Fitch?

Assessing customer satisfaction by industry, the [24]7 survey found that cable companies received the lowest score amongst respondents. One in four respondents said they had left a cable company in the past year due to poor customer service.  Retailers and airlines took the second and third lowest spots in the ranking for customer service among those surveyed.

Customers gave a variety of reasons for breaking up with a company. For example, two out of five respondents said they ended their relationship with a company due to frustrations surrounding automated phone self-service systems, in particular citing the difficulties in reaching a live agent. Similarly, one out of three respondents dumped their companies for being forced to wait too long to speak to a live person.

So while loyalty may play a part in the decision for a customer to leave, companies with shoddy or understaffed automated phone systems are most likely to lose clients.  After all, who wants to be in a relationship in which it takes hours for the person to come to the phone every time you call?