Massachusetts

Many would rather plunge a toilet or have jury duty than call customer service, survey shows

A study conducted by Massachusetts-based Interactions shows consumers have been deeply dissatisfied with customer service

NBC Universal, Inc.

How do you feel about the state of customer service these days? According to a recent survey, it's so bad that more than a third of people who took part would rather get a cavity filled than deal with it.

The study was conducted by Interactions, a Massachusetts company that provides customer support for some of the largest brands in the world using conversational artificial intelligence and human interaction.

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Of 1,000 people surveyed, more than a third said they would rather participate in jury duty or unclog a bathroom drain than contact customer service.

Other findings include that 55% of those surveyed feel customer service is deteriorating, while 33% admit to raising their voices or swearing at a customer service system in the last year.

Given the choice, 32% of consumers surveyed would rather take the SATs again than engage with customer service representatives, and 28% would rather burn their mouths on hot coffee.

"More than a third of Americans would prefer to plunge a toilet than have to engage with customer support. That tells you an awful lot about where we are today," said Peter Mullen, chief marketing officer at Interactions. "Consumer sentiment, when it comes to the customer experience and customer support, is at a 22-year low. We know this through multiple surveys from Harvard Business Review, to our own survey, to a number of others."

Mullen says people are frustrated.

"They're having shorter fuses, shorter attention spans with everything related to customer service," he said. "This is something that we have got to get past, and we have got to hear what the customers are saying and respond to them in the right way."

Specifically, consumers say hold times are too long, they're sick of being transferred and they can't get their issues addressed.

Interactions says the majority of consumers value having digital technology, such as virtual assistants and chatbots, to help them. The company uses AI as the backbone of what it does, but they have a human in the loop, so if you bump into an issue, the human intervenes to move the conversation forward. They think that is secret to positive customer service outcomes.

If you suspect you're caught up in an outdated customer service system, you may want to press 0 to get to a human customer service representative right away. That will save you time and some hassle.

Consumers are also advised to contact the company during main weekday hours to get the most experienced customer service representatives on the line.

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