Bad customer service 'a big problem'


Most unhappy customers won't speak up, but simply take their business elsewhere or gripe about it to others: Poll

Irritated by rude service staff but cannot be bothered to lodge a complaint?

You are in good company - a study has found that six in 10 people who suffered bad customer service did not pipe up, mainly because channels were not readily accessible or they did not trust that their complaints would make a difference.

Instead, 42 per cent of dissatisfied customers said they were less likely to use the brand or not use it at all in future, while 31 per cent said they would share their unhappy experience with others.

The implication is that companies might lose customers without knowing why.

"The study revealed that there are a significant number of dissatisfied customers who fall through the cracks. Most organisations will agree that retention of customers is just as important as acquisition, if not more," said Ms Melanie Ng, director of Ipsos Loyalty Singapore, which did the survey with market research firm Survey Sampling International.

Ipsos polled 1,043 Singapore residents in an online survey over 10 days in March, its first such study, it said yesterday.

Of those who gave feedback, two in five said they did not receive any acknowledgement from the organisations.

Over the past six months, two out of three customers had at least one unsatisfactory service experience, said the study. Most were let down by telecommunications companies, retail and food and beverage companies, and insurance and banking services.

These negative experiences have repercussions. Of those who gave feedback, 75 per cent expected a response within 11/2 days - but only 30 per cent received a response within the expected time.

Some 18 per cent did not receive a response nor did they expect one, and 23 per cent waited for a reply only to be ignored.

Said Ms Ng: "Every organisation needs to equip itself with the capability to respond almost instantaneously, ensuring customers' voices are heard and acted upon in the most genuine and prompt manner."

Service providers said that while they try to respond to most feedback, it is impossible to reply to every one. Some customers are abusive or refuse to give their details when probed, they said.

Telco StarHub said it gets a lot of feedback each month and aims to respond "as soon as reasonably possible".

An M1 spokesman said: "While we aim to respond to all customer feedback, in isolated cases, we may be able to respond to the customer only upon verification of his identity, to enable us to engage him and provide appropriate assistance."

Social worker Shuming Loo, 35, said she would give feedback - but only if it is done face-to-face.

"Over the phone, it's more difficult to access the right person who will follow through with my complaint. The person who picks up the phone also often changes each time I call," she said.