One in five Brits haven’t had a positive interaction with customer service in the last year, research finds

Twilio, the leading customer engagement platform, has launched new research which finds that British consumers will go to extreme lengths to have their issues taken seriously by customer service teams.

Focusing on customer engagement within the transport and utilities industries during a difficult economic climate, Twilio has uncovered how, even in a challenging commercial environment, good customer service is business-critical. Data also shows that consumers respond to customer service in different ways, indicating a need for businesses to provide a flexible and personalised service offering.

Customer experience is key to business bottom lines

Customer service can have a direct impact on bottom lines, meaning good customer engagement remains essential. This is especially important as British customers face an increasingly challenging economic climate, and transport and utilities industries in particular navigate growing pressure to get their customer service engagement right.

Twilio’s research underlines the importance of this, with most respondents stating they feel more positive about a company when they speak to someone helpful and understanding (51% for transport and 63% for utilities). Ultimately, the way an organisation makes its customers feel matters – three in five consumers said that they would stop doing business with a utilities company after a negative interaction, and 49% said the same regarding travel and transport. As both industries have had to handle significant customer difficulties in recent times, with energy prices rising and transport frequently disrupted, these findings demonstrate that customer service can make a difference to ongoing relationships.

Furthermore, word travels whether the interaction is good or bad: 71% are likely to tell family and friends after they have a positive interaction with customer experience, and 76% after a negative one. Even in challenging times, therefore, investing in customer engagement is business-critical and can be the most powerful tool at the disposal of a company, not just a cost-centre.

Customers go to great lengths to have their issues heard, so treat them as individuals

Nearly half of Brits (47%) admitted they would ask to speak to the manager to speed up issue resolution, with respondents above the age of 45 more likely to do so. Meanwhile, 18-24 year olds are between two and eight times more likely than older demographics to lie about their issue to get customer service to take them more seriously.

Furthermore, while resolution is still the main priority, people respond to customer service in different ways: 87% of people generally expect to speak to a real person about their issue or query, where 47% would be happy to speak to a chatbot as long as their issue is resolved.

Sam Richardson, customer engagement consultant at Twilio commented, “Businesses must remember that consumers can be facing difficult situations when they get in touch, and as a result, they need to get their customer engagement right first time to ensure they don’t lose customers. Think of train companies or airlines whose customers are dealing with delays, or energy companies whose users are grappling with real uncertainty – it’s a crucial time to make sure you hear your customers’ needs and respond in the right way.

“The answer to this increased pressure is not knee jerk reactions like cutting off phone lines or investing in a new chatbot, but to really understand what customers want. This can be facilitated through analysis of first-party data insights from customer engagement tools, which allow companies to use data from their own customer interactions to shape their future engagements.”

The variation in the way customers respond to issues points to a need for businesses to provide personalised experiences. It’s important that they can retain information so that the conversation can be picked up seamlessly and customer service can act quickly to understand and resolve the issue – in fact, 83% of customers still expect to receive real-time support regardless of how they get in touch.

Anticipate pain points and set your communication up to win

One in five people say they have not had a positive interaction with customer service in the last year, a fact that is likely the result of all too often encountering impenetrable or frustrating customer service systems. This highlights the urgent need for businesses to ensure they are building better engagement with their customers, which can only be achieved through understanding them and adapting their strategies to reflect customer needs and preferences.

“Building consumer trust can be immeasurably beneficial,” continued Richardson. ”A proactive approach that anticipates customer needs will win: 57% are happy to receive proactive customer service messaging if it means they won’t need to get in touch. For example, businesses could explore smart automation that learns from previous conversations and suggest the right services to customers. And while some are reluctant to turn to technology, if it was guaranteed to work, over a third of transport customers would use an automated system, as well as more than 40% of utilities customers.”

Ultimately, businesses must work to understand their customers, predict their needs and prevent any potential issues – before customers become frustrated enough to lie, or ask to speak to the manager.


Walnut Omnibus conducted a quantitative syndicated survey on behalf of Twilio in July 2022. The survey is conducted online, interviewing a nationally representative sample of 2,000 GB adults (aged 18+). Interviews are completed by members of Walnut’s newvista panel who have agreed to take part in our surveys. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition to provide a representative reporting sample. The nationally representative profile is based on census data collected by the National Office for Statistics.

About Twilio

Today’s leading companies trust Twilio’s Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) to build direct, personalised relationships with their customers everywhere in the world. Twilio enables companies to use communications and data to add intelligence and security to every step of the customer journey, from sales to marketing to growth, customer service and many more engagement use cases in a flexible, programmatic way. Across 180 countries, millions of developers and hundreds of thousands of businesses use Twilio to create magical experiences for their customers.

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