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Problem with 'One Size Fits All' Customer Care

Multichannel Newswire reports that Interactive Voice Response (IVR) units have helped to reduce the amount of time customers are on hold during service calls, but a recent study from Accenture found that six out of 10 respondents to an online poll did not believe that IVRs, live online chat and other automated technologies improve the quality of their customer service experience.

About 18 percent of the 1,000 who responded to the survey said retailers have the worst customer service, followed by Internet service providers, banks, landline and cellular phone providers and cable and satellite firms. Utility companies, life insurance firms, airlines, and hotels were cited the least, the survey found.

Being kept on hold was among the biggest complaints. Other gripes included having to repeat information and being pitched extra services during a service call. But automated phone services received the lowest level of satisfaction among all customer service channels, while in-person services rated highest.

Indeed, it would appear that people dislike automation so much, there is a Web site -- -- dedicated solely to promoting human interaction on the phone. The site also gives consumers a roadmap to speak with a real customer-service rep.

While getting a real person on the line is paramount to some customers, speaking to a CSR doesn’t guarantee satisfaction. Accenture’s study found that women were more likely than men to ask to speak to a supervisor, while men would simply hang up. Women were also more likely to complain about repeating information to several agents, and put a higher level of importance on an agent's manor and approach.

Among all respondents, those under 40 were the least loyal, with some 54 percent saying bad customer service had prompted them to switch companies in the past year. One in five said they have hung up on customer service agents and called back hoping to reach a different (more helpful) agent.

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