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Your view: top customer service gripes

Customer Service

Automated phone systems are topping our poll of customer service gripes, but others aren’t far behind. As National Customer Service Week comes to an end, I’ve rounded-up your top frustrations.

Automated phone systems most annoy Bookworm:

‘I hate that the “options” menu doesn’t always give you what you want and there is no way of seeking a “real person” for help. Also that if you phone 10 minutes before the end of their working day your call mysteriously gets cut off.’

But being charged to wait in a queue is Jaytee’s top gripe:

‘Why should we be charged for waiting in a queue? A few years ago, this never happened. It’s similar to being charged a fixed ‘call set-up fee’. What is this charge for?’

Whereas Patricia gets most annoyed by the waiting times:

‘Today we phoned Miele as our washing machine has broken down. After waiting 11 minutes on the phone repeatedly being informed that they have ‘award winning customer service.’

And to top it off, Glenaim feels they have little impact anyway:

‘What is most infuriating to me, is customer service people with no power(s) to do the common sense thing to resolve the problem, even if they want to!’

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

Mair pointed out the irony of it all on our Facebook page:

‘Problem is I have so many: menus, messages telling you are no 1 in queue but you don’t get to speak to anyone and messages saying how important you are but obviously not important enough.’

She was echoed by Jacquelin:

‘Companies that waste your time with recorded messages telling you how wonderful they are – that “your happiness is of paramount importance” to them! This is particularly frustrating when you are ringing to point out their deficiencies and request/demand an improvement!’

Solutions to your customer service gripes

It’s not all despair, some of our regulars came to share their tactics. Lee Beaumont advised:

99% of my phone calls with companies are always amazing. Why? Well it’s because I would tweet or e-mail a company & ask them to call me.

Are automated phone systems your top gripe? We haven’t shut the poll yet, so you’ve still got time to vote. A share some tips if you have any.

Which of these customer service gripes are most irritating? (Pick up to three)

Automated telephone systems (23%, 909 Votes)

Long queues (15%, 600 Votes)

Being passed around lots of people (13%, 507 Votes)

Trying to sell you unwanted products (11%, 435 Votes)

Annoying hold music (10%, 406 Votes)

Receiving a standard response to problems (8%, 323 Votes)

Lack of knowledge about products or services (6%, 240 Votes)

Having to wait for help or a response (5%, 218 Votes)

Rude staff (5%, 196 Votes)

Staff talking to each other (3%, 130 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (1%, 50 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,466

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Sophie Gilbert says:
11 October 2014

Another gripe is companies opening their lines only from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, hours during which, like most of us, I am at work and may not use the phone for personal business. I can use my mobile, but the companies’ phone numbers often begin with 0845, which of course costs more from a mobile than from a landline. Grrr!

I often prefer email to phone – written records. My local county council aims to reply within 5 working days (and frequently does not). Our neighbouring county states “our customer service standard is to reply within 10 working days (some “standard”). Government departments allow up to 28 working days to reply – a discussion could go on for months. These are service providers and we are their customers – but where is any semblance of customer service found here?

I agree with Malcolm about the value of email for keeping a record of correspondence. Unfortunately, it is now commonplace for organisations, particularly companies, to use web-based forms rather than providing an email address, so keeping records is difficult.

I don’t have much cause to deal with government departments and the only significant problem I can remember is with vehicle licensing. As part of my work for a charity I have had a lot of correspondence with government agencies including the Environment Agency, Natural England and English Heritage. My experience has been very good. Emails are generally dealt with promptly and telephone enquiries are handled efficiently.

Helen Dewdney (@ComplainingCow) says:
16 October 2014

Take screen grabs

Our council (Leeds City Council) sends you a auto reply saying they can take 24-48 hours to reply. But 99% of the time you get a reply within 1-2hours.

Sophie Gilbert says:
14 October 2014

Well done, Leeds City Council, because another gripe I have is companies saying they will phone you back the same day and they don’t. I had that from Brita yesterday.

Hi , a cheeky tip you could try … Once youre connected to an automated phone system , tap the 8 key 8 times in fairly quick succession … This should get you through to a human … Assuming thats what you want to do …. Worth a try … Roy

Does that really work Roy? I might have to give it a shot whenever I’m next in a phone line queue. Great tip!