Customer satisfaction hinges on customer service. Leave the average consumer in limbo too long and you risk closing the door on loyalty and brand advocacy without ever inviting these customers in. But, when putting customer service at the foundation of one's business strategy, companies must also look at the underlying issues that often cause customer relationships to crumble.

As part of its "Customer Satisfaction Issues Survey," Verint polled more than 7,000 consumers from around the globe, including in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, and Russia. The purpose was to assess common customer behaviors and perceptions affecting customer satisfaction around the world. The survey, which focused on five sectors—retail, utilities, financial service, public services, and phone, TV, and broadband—established that service outranks price in importance by a two-to-one margin. Only 22 percent of respondents worldwide believe price outweighs service, while 48 percent favor customer service excellence.

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The following statistics further explore how consumers interact with brands and service providers and how service impacts these customer relationships:

  • Marketing efforts aren't influencing customer behavior as desired, with only 28 percent of consumers worldwide reading and responding to the marketing messages and special offers sent. Only 27 percent of Americans read such messages.
  • When it comes to customer service experience, only 49 percent of respondents worldwide were completely satisfied with their overall experience, with 22 percent entirely dissatisfied. Retail had the highest global satisfaction rate (67 percent), while 41 percent of those polled claim public service offers the most dissatisfying experience.
  • Respondents also claim that retail provides the best holistic view of the customer. Only 10 percent of consumers worldwide believe the retail representative they spoke with didn't have access to all the information then needed, while phone, TV, and broadband providers are the least knowledgeable upon contact (20 percent).
  • While the average wait time across each sector was less than four minutes, retail surpassed all other industries with an average wait time of 2.5 minutes globally. Public service customers, however, reported the highest average wait time at five minutes.
  • Nineteen percent of those polled globally report waiting 10 minutes or more for their phone, TV, and broadband provider to resolve their questions. In the U.S., public services remains the most unreliable, with 29 percent reporting wait times of 10 minutes or more, as compared to only 19 percent worldwide.
  • Forty percent of respondents are likely to share both positive and negative experiences via social media. Facebook ranks as the top social platform, with 19 percent of global respondents and 28 percent of U.S. respondents using this social network to connect with friends and family most frequently.

Key takeaway: Consumers are often quick to anger when it comes to routine service mistakes. Fifty-six percent of global respondents claim they are likely to anger over billing errors and long wait times. However, 44 percent will allow companies to make a few mistakes before looking into another provider. Everyone makes mistakes, even companies that pride themselves on excellent service, and customers understand that the occasional error comes with the territory. But companies must learn to handle mistakes effectively and efficiently so customers will look to these defining moments as times of relationship strengthening and growth. Whether a routine gaffe, or a serious error, treating the customer with the utmost concern will boost service satisfaction and increase loyalty and advocacy.