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Insights and musings about customer service and managing a SaaS software company


TOA’s Annual Cost of Waiting Survey 2011

November 4, 2011 by Yuval Brisker

Today TOA released the Annual Cost of Waiting survey.

This is  a Zogby survey which determines the cost people perceive that they have to wait at home for a good or service to be delivered to their home.  The most interesting aspect of this year’s survey is its focus on the personal toll in dollars, pounds, euros and reals that consumers in four countries perceive the wait for the delivery of an in-home goods or service delivery is costing them from their own pay.  In these economically challenging times – this is of particular concern.

Key Insights:

We commissioned the survey in the US, UK, Germany and Brazil, of more than 1000 adults per country – On average, 58% of respondents waited for in-home deliveries or services in the past year:

  • 58% = total # of respondents who completed the survey, divided by the total # of completed respondents and # of respondents who opted out of the very first question (they didn’t wait)

The report found a potential $37.7 billion economic impact of the total time spent waiting for in-home services (like utilities, retail delivery, broadband, etc.):

  • $37.7 billion = US average cost of waiting (per individual – $250), multiplied by the American Civilian labor force (based on 2010 US Census data)

The annual Cost of Waiting per individual is equivalent to removing the average American from the workforce for more than two full days:

  • Cost of waiting per individual is nearly $250 annually in the US – based on respondent-reported values
  • The average wait time for in-home services in 2011 was nearly four and a half hours (4.5) – two hours and 30 minutes longer than expected – and took place approximately three appointments per year

The impact of social media on the customer service process and a focus on preventative and real-time solutions will also be key to service differentiation:

  • Our survey found that 55% of respondents would complain, either to their friends or social networks, if their service technician was not on time.

This year’s study showed a low consumer threshold for frustration – for every customer lost, it costs businesses $330 annually (based on respondent estimates):

  • Improving customer service and investing in advanced technology tools can dramatically change a customer’s perception of a business – Of the respondents surveyed, 70% stated that they would recommend a company solely on the fact that an appointment was on time.

There has been a drastic shift in opinions of good customer service, as customers are taking note of each technician’s skill level as the main determinant of good customer service.

  • 81% of respondents noted that the skill of a service technician as being critical to creating a positive service experience, and their initiative to go above and beyond, was among the most important aspects that positively impact their opinion of a company.

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