When you call customer service, you may encounter some things that you don’t particularly enjoy, like being put on hold with some music or waiting to navigate through an automated menu. However, calling services is necessary for people who have questions or complaints about a product or service they’ve received. It’s also a valuable opportunity for companies to interact with their customers and get feedback on their experience.
Analyzing the reasons why people call customer support can help companies identify issues with their website or products. Generally, these reasons can be grouped into four broad categories: wanting more information before making a purchase, being unhappy with a product or service, experiencing website problems, or seeking an exception to a policy. By examining more data, we can determine if these categories are consistent across different situations.
Data Sources and Classification System for Customer Calling Services
To understand why people use calling services, researchers gathered data from two sources. The first source was SUPR-Q benchmark reports for selected industries, which asked participants whether they called customer service in the prior year and the reason for their call. The second source was a customer service study conducted in 2018, where participants reflected on their most recent call to customer service for any reason.
To know who people called, researchers used a classification system for the 3,477 unique companies mentioned by the study’s respondents. The top 11 types of companies, accounting for 64% of responses, were classified as retail, cable/internet, bank/financial, wireless provider, insurance, computer maker, pharmacy, ride share/delivery, gaming, airline, and other. Retail websites were the most commonly called type of company, followed by cable/internet providers and financial institutions.
The most recent data suggests that telecom companies, retail stores/websites, and financial institutions are the types of companies people most often call for customer service. The findings demonstrate that customer service is an essential touchpoint for companies to interact with their customers and identify problems in the user experience on websites.
Reasons for Contacting Customer Service by Company Type
The study aimed to understand why customers contact customer service by providing an open-text field for participants to describe their reasons for cold calling services. To categorize the responses, the first 1,000 were coded to achieve a systematic understanding of user-generated reasons. Tables 2-9 show the top reasons people called each company type and examples of what the participants reported.
For retail companies, the most common reason people called was for a late or missing package. For cable/internet companies, the majority of calls were due to internet outages, while in banking/financial institutions, billing issues and account management were the primary reasons for calls. For wireless companies, technical issues and billing problems were the primary reasons for calls, and in the insurance industry, confusion around plan coverage and updating information were the main reasons for calls.
The percentage of customers who called customer support varied across industries. However, data on how often people call customer support is not comprehensive.
Login/Password Issues as a Reason for Calling Services
According to reports, around a quarter of calls to call centers are related to logging in (forgetting passwords and usernames). Our benchmark data shows similar findings, with Table 11 displaying the percentage of respondents who called customer support in the past year for login-related issues by industry.
Interestingly, brokerage companies had the highest percentage of respondents reporting login/password issues (38%), followed by consumer banks (29%). This makes sense as these websites contain highly secure information. Surprisingly, no one in our airlines report mentioned calling support for login issues, but this may be due to the fact that we didn’t provide that option as a response.
In our customer service study, we analyzed 1,000 responses and found that only 3% mentioned login/password issues as a reason for calling. In fact, the word “password” only appeared 49 times in the 3,477 reasons analyzed. The variation in outcomes may be attributed to the dissimilarity in survey methodology; our study permitted participants to respond with any company name they chose, while the benchmark reports centered on a specific company and included the option of reporting login/password difficulties. It’s possible that more frequent and stressful activities, such as having no internet or a missing package, dominate self-reports.
Customer Service Calls Due to Website Issues
Our research found that many customers call customer support because they have trouble with company websites. We looked at both benchmark reports and customer service study data to investigate this issue. In the customer service study, only 2.3% of the reasons given by customers were specifically related to website difficulties. These difficulties were typically errors, like a website being down or not working properly. However, when we looked across industries, we found that many of the reasons customers gave could be resolved by information that is already on the website, but difficult to find. For example, a Sprint customer had trouble finding information about upgrades, while in our wireless benchmark report, participants had trouble finding different plan options. A Blue Cross/Blue Shield customer was confused about their health care coverage, and in our health insurance benchmark, we found that participants were often confused by basic terms and what was covered.
Key Findings and Implications
An analysis of customer support calls revealed that telecoms, retailers, banks, and insurance companies are the companies that receive the most calls. Telecom conglomerates like Charter, Comcast, and AT&T, which provide Internet, TV, phone, and wireless services, received the most calls, followed by retail companies like Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
The reasons for calls varied depending on the company. Telecom companies received calls mostly about Internet outages, while retail stores and websites received calls about delayed or missing packages. Banks and insurance companies received calls about unexpected charges, billing discrepancies, and payment and trading requests.
When prompted, username and password problems were among the most common reasons for calls, particularly for banking and brokerage companies. However, a small percentage of respondents cited login issues as their most recent reason for calling. This may be because calls to other companies are more memorable and frequent, such as when the Internet is down or a package is missing.
To understand the reasons people call, it is helpful to offer a balance of open- and closed-ended response options. Open-ended comments can provide more top-of-mind reasons but require time to code into categories for better interpretation. Pre-identified options can better track call reasons, but it may inflate the actual percentages. A good strategy is to use both open-ended and pre-identified options.