SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON: British consumers are less forgiving of poor customer service than their American counterparts, although US consumers are twice as likely to voice a bad experience to others, new research has shown.

According to a study from NewVoiceMedia, the contact centre technology provider, poor customer service prompts half of UK customers to take their custom elsewhere whereas the same is true of 44% of consumers in the US.

Added to that, as UK consumers spend more prior to switching, the report warned that UK businesses are losing twice as much as US companies each year in relative terms – custom that NewVoiceMedia valued at £12bn in the UK and $41bn in the US.

However, while UK customers are more prepared to switch, they are also more likely to offer businesses an opportunity to resolve a problem and a full 58% will write to complain before ditching them compared to just 37% of Americans.

Americans are also more likely to leave without explanation, the report found, and half will advise friends and colleagues not to use a company, compared with only 27% in the UK, while almost 60% (59.3%) will post negative comments on social media channels. In both countries, women are more likely to use social media to complain.

On both sides of the Atlantic, being kept on hold for too long is one of the biggest irritants for customers, although the British are slightly more patient – only 16% say they hang up after five minutes compared with 22% of Americans.

The report also confirmed that voice, rather than email, continues as the preferred channel for customer service with almost three-quarters (71%) of consumers in both countries considering it to be the most effective way of obtaining a quick response.

Jonathan Gale, CEO at NewVoiceMedia, said: "While UK consumers are more likely to leave a company following poor service than those from the US, they share the same frustrations – not feeling appreciated as a customer, being kept on hold and having to repeat themselves to multiple agents.

"Great customer service is the critical differentiator and investing in providing personalised and engaging customer experiences every time, through every channel, will help businesses succeed in retaining customers and securing new business."

Data sourced from NewVoiceMedia; additional content by Warc staff