Why Consumers Get Annoyed With Customer Service Departments [Research]

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Rebecca Riserbato
Rebecca Riserbato



Have you ever been running late, but wanted to grab a coffee before heading into the office?

Annoyed woman talking to customer service on the phone

However, at the coffee shop, the line was taking forever and it seemed like the baristas were overwhelmed? Were you perhaps even slightly annoyed at the delay?

If so, then you've experienced one of the main reasons that customers get annoyed with customer service departments -- long wait times.

While it's not any person's fault specifically, customers have a tendency to take out their frustration on customer service employees.

But, what else do customers get annoyed at? And how can your support reps work to improve the customer experience, even when things outside their control annoy a customer?

Let's dive in below.

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What's the most annoying part of dealing with customer service?

To find out what annoys customers the most, we asked nearly 300 consumers what irks them when they're dealing with customer service.

An overwhelming majority of people (57%) said that long phone call hold times are the most annoying part of dealing with customer service.

21% of respondents said that speaking to a service bot annoyed them most.

To review the rest of the data, see the graphic below:

Graphic showing why customers get annoyed with customer serviceData Source

So, now that we know some of the reasons why customers get annoyed with customer service, let's review the biggest annoyances consumers have and discuss how to fix these issues.

1. Long phone call hold times.

57% of consumers said the most annoying part of dealing with customer service departments is long phone call hold times. This can happen when you don't have enough reps to answer the phones or the call demand is just too high for your company.

Either way, it's important to reduce wait time as much as possible in customer service. A great way to improve your customer experience is to track this metric and work on improving it.

2. When I have to speak with a service bot.

Customers have different preferences. Some people want to chat with your company via text and others want to talk on the phone. The best way to improve the customer experience is to have options for whatever your customers prefer.

If customers prefer speaking with a human, making them talk to a service bot will annoy them. Personalized customer service means meeting the customer where they're at and fixing their problems through the channel that makes them most comfortable.

3. When service reps don't listen to my problem.

Perhaps one of the most annoying things to deal with in general, consumers agree that one of the biggest annoyances when dealing with customer service is when a service rep doesn't listen to your problem.

Sam Hastings, a customer support specialist at HubSpot, says, "I've noticed that some of the biggest frustrations come from asking the customer for the same information twice. It makes the customer feel like they're not getting your full attention and that you're not fully invested in solving their issue."

To fix this, Hastings says, "When I have to ask a customer a similar question to one I've already asked, I make sure to explain how the question is different. If I'm ever in the unfortunate position of having to get information that the customer has already given me, I make sure to call it out and apologize for making them repeat themselves."

4. When the rep doesn't answer my questions.

Another annoying aspect of dealing with customer service is when a rep won't answer the questions you're asking. Sometimes this has to do with miscommunication, but more often than not, it's because the rep isn't actively listening.

To improve this, it's important to work with your support reps on active listening skills. Your service department should be focused on solving for the customer first.

5. When I have to talk to a human but prefer a chatbot.

Again, customers will have different preferences. If your customers prefer solving problems with a chatbot, then your service department should have that option available to them.

Providing excellent customer service is about knowing your customers and having a two-way relationship with them. This means that you know how they prefer to communicate and your service department focuses on providing a great customer experience through those channels.

6. The customer service team can't be contacted online or via text message.

Most of the biggest annoyances that customers have with dealing with customer service are related to communication preferences. Customers don't like when they can't contact a company electronically.

If your service department only has one way of communicating with customers, it's important to find out if your channel aligns with your customer preferences.

7. Going back and forth on a ticket.

Sometimes when a customer asks a question, you might not have an answer right away. Going back and forth on a ticket might annoy a customer, so it's important to communicate that you understand that frustration.

Michaela Luttman, a senior customer support specialist at HubSpot, says, "Taking a customer question off the phone/chat to file a help ticket through IT is definitely a common customer frustration since we can't give them an answer during our initial interaction and/or if the back and forth and updates from our team take a few days."

To combat this, Luttman recommends, "One thing I do that helps is following up with the customer daily, even if there is no solution yet. Just letting the customer know that we are still looking into it helps and reassures them that their ticket has not gotten lost or ignored. When I do need to take a request off chat for further investigation I usually close out with something like 'I will send you an email as soon as I have an update,' which helps them realize I understand the urgency."

Customers are going to get annoyed with your service department. It's just a fact. But the more you understand your customers, the easier it will be to provide first-class customer service every time.

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