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Industry Research : International Study Points to Transatlantic Customer Service Differences
British consumers spend three times more effort making complaints than US consumers, according to international Omnibus polling for customer service providers KANA Software.
The study found that Americans make one and a half times more complaints than the British do each year, yet Britons get bogged down in time-consuming repetition and queuing when trying to get their complaints resolved.
Most British complainers prefer email (42%) whereas most Americans (39%) favour the phone as their instrument of complaint. The days of "Dear Sir or Madam" are now behind us and letter writing no longer features as a means for complaint. The poll suggests that stationery is now a stationary medium, with all material correspondence now digital and/or social.
"It appears that British stoicism manifests itself in fewer complaints and a more patient approach to queuing," said James Norwood, chief marketing officer for KANA. "Our research shows US complaints on average are lodged and resolved in an hour, while in the UK, customers spend a half day of their precious time achieving resolution."
The British also require higher levels of resourcefulness, with the average complaint requiring four points of contact versus three required by US consumers.
US complainers are also more prepared to complain in front of an audience. Social complaints are the second most common channel in the US. In Britain, the phone is second choice after email. What unites both countries is a near-identical percentage of consumers that have complained in the last three years – 71% in the US and 72% in the UK.
"Organisations ought to beware if they think that the British mistake ‘complaint’ and ‘compliant,'" said Norwood. "There is mounting evidence in our research that tech-savvy youth will bring the full force of their social media skills to play when they reach the sweet spot for consumer complaints at age 25. If organisations aren’t focusing on seeing social media as the 21st century version of the store counter they are in for a major reputational challenge."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, September 2, 2013