Voice Message Systems Upset 50+ Customers

People 50 and older were more annoyed than others by convoluted voice-messaging systems according to a Consumer Reports National Research survey of 1,010 adults. I’m surprised they didn’t also complain about difficulty to comprehend the thick accents of some call centre folks.

Some other highlights from the study. These are general consumer responses, not specifically 50+, but important nevertheless:JPEG

  • 64% said that during the previous 12 months they had left a store because service was poor
  • 67% had hung up on customer service without having had their problem addressed.
  • 71% were “tremendously annoyed” when they couldn’t reach a human on the phone;
  • 65% felt “tremendously annoyed” about rude sales-people.
  • 56% felt “tremendously annoyed” about having to take multiple phone steps to reach the right place.
  • Women were more annoyed than men when they couldn’t reach a person by phone; men were especially annoyed by customer-service phone reps who pitched unrelated goods or services;
  • 16% of Americans prefer to deal with a customer-service problem in person. 20% favor the phone; 2% percent, live chat. Fewer still prefer e-mail. 60% said that their preferred method of contact depends on the nature of the problem.


Out of a scale of one to 10 (10 being most annoying) the “most annoying in-store customer gripes” are that of a rude salesperson (8.7) and a pushy salesperson (8.2). The “least annoying in-store customer gripes” are waiting at the checkout counter (6.9) and waiting for a scheduled repair (6.4).

The retailer that did best? Apple, which was noted highly for its retail service with regard to cellphones, computers, computer tech support and electronics. Incidentally, Apple scored 4.4 (scale of 5) in our SilverAudit.

In general, the companies that scored best were brokerage firms, eyeglass retailers and pharmacies. Not surprisingly, “computer tech support, TV, phone and internet-service providers earned some of the lowest scores.”

The “least-annoying phone-related customer gripes” are no apology for unsolved problems (7.8) and boring hold music (6.9).

Thankfully, here in Asia, we have not adopted the auto messaging quite as completely as the USA.

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