Resolve Customer Service Complaints Quickly

This article is a guest contribution from Shep Hyken


Do you spend more time than you would like on the phone dealing with bad customer service?

According to an article by Brian O’Connell in The Street, statistics show that the average adult in the United States spends 364 minutes on the phone every year waiting … and hoping … to talk to someone who can correct their bad experience.

That’s nearly six and a half hours.

Over the course of just six years, you would lose almost an entire 40-hour work week, or over 25 years, a month of your life is taken up waiting on the phone.


O’Connell’s article relied on data from Populus Research and Kana Software, which refer to the “complaint wait” as the “hidden price of doing business.”


The study shed light on some other interesting facts:

– The average time wasted on one complaint is an hour and four minutes, and 71 percent of U.S. consumers have lodged a complaint in the past three years.

– Sixty-nine percent of consumers had to report their complaint multiple times. Getting a problem resolved took an average of three attempts.

– Thirty-three percent use e-mail to file a complaint, while 39 percent make a phone call.

– Only 7 percent voice their complaints on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Yelp.



I was surprised by the social media findings.

Other surveys seem to indicate that social media is becoming more popular as an outlet for customer service complaints. Even at 7 percent, however, it is a case of the “squeaky wheels that get the oil.”

Companies are aware that customers who voice their opinions in such a public forum influence their friends and followers, and at times, the general public. I believe the numbers are on the rise as consumers become better educated on how to use social media to be heard and get their problems resolved.


The statistics in this article should be alarming to businesses, especially those that deal with the end consumer.

Time is a valuable commodity, and if you “steal” it from customers, you are treating them with disregard and disrespect. And I never before realized how much of an issue this is and how much time is wasted.


Smart companies should realize that if they waste their customers’ time, they will eventually lose those customers.

No one wants to deal with bad service, or subsequently wait on the phone for customer support to correct the problem. What customers do want is a company that offers good service, quickly fixes problems when they do occur, and has respect for their time – and they are often willing to pay more for these benefits.


To state it as simply as possible:

Fix problems quickly!  And with the right attitude!




Shep HykenShep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to



Copyright © MMXIV Shep Hyken – Used with permission.






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  • Donna Merrill

    Hi Shep,

    When it comes to customer service, it is the backbone of our business. If the customer is not satisfied, yes, you will hear about it all over social media! However, if we can provide good quick customer service they also will give us a good shout out.

    I am a small business owner and my customers are international, so i give them a choice of different ways to reach me. But more importantly, give specific times when I can be reached.

    We have to put our customers first because those are the people who will, purchase more of our products in our sales funnels.

    Thanks for the information!


    • Aurelie Chazal

      Hi Donna,

      Our customers are international too, I agree that clearly stating opening hours or times you can be reached is important. It helps setting realistic expectations and making sure customers won’t be disappointed if you’re not answering at a given hour.

      Social Media can’t be ignored nowadays, and brands understood that. Yet, it sometimes seem like most of them fear the bad buzz without really thinking about people sharing the good things. In the end, when you focus too much on making sure no one sees the bad comments, you forget about the customer and end up thinking about your brand’s image only. This never ends good and I wish more brands got that.

      Thank you for the comment!


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