British public on hold for 12 mins before speaking with a call centre worker

The British public are being forced to wait an average of 12 minutes before being connected to a call centre worker. When Brits finally get to speak to a real person, 9 out of 10 (87%) say their complaints are not always resolved, according to exclusive new online research from global cloud communications platform Infobip.

The research polled 2,000 UK Adults aged 18 and above, and aimed to find out why and how the British public are complaining. The long wait times and lack of a solution reveals the frustration consumers face just to have their grievances heard.

The research also revealed the following about customer complaints in the UK:

  • “Please hold, your call is important to us!”: Over a quarter (27%) say being left on hold or long wait times are the biggest frustration. Despite that, they are often made to wait an average of 12 minutes before being connected to an agent – that is equivalent to replaying Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop single “Call Me Maybe” FOUR times!
  • “Can I speak to the manager?!”: Almost half (46%) have asked to speak to the manager while dealing with call centre workers. This increases with age, with those above 65 years old coming in top (65%) and Gen Zs tracking in the least (27%), a finding that shows the older we get the less patience we have.
  • ABCDEF-U: 5% of the general population have admitted to swearing at call centre workers. Surprisingly, it’s the younger generation (10% of 18-24 and 8% of 25–30-year-olds) who are less embarrassed about turning the air blue.

Three-fifths (64%) said a good customer call experience would make them recommend that brand to their friends and family by word-of-mouth, and online.

  • Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me: Half (51%) of British consumers would give a brand only two chances while a fifth (22%) would give businesses just one chance before deciding to never buy from them again.
  • Speed is key: Majority (44%) say that call centre workers who can address their issues and quickly answer their queries (40%) make the unpleasant complaint experience better.
  • Money doesn’t always talk: Less than a fifth (18%) of consumers said a generous compensation made a positive difference to their experience, in a finding that suggests that people want their problems fixed, and not just have money thrown at the problem.
  • At the end of the day, customers just want a friendly listening ear: Over half say that a friendly demeanour (33%) and speaking to an agent who empathises with their problems (33%) help improve the overall experience.

To better understand the other side of the story, Infobip also spoke to real people working in call centres around the UK to find out what call centre workers deal with on a daily basis. Amidst the current economic climate, with high costs of living trickling down to the end-customer across all sectors, agents are not only at the receiving end of irate customers venting their frustrations, but they also often bear the brunt of verbal abuse in the form of racism and sexism.

James Stokes, Country Manager, UK & Ireland at Infobip said: “Both customers and call centre workers often come out of these interactions worse for wear; beleaguered after long wait times, unresolved complaints, and even being subjected to verbal abuse. There are no winners, and it is clear we need to fix the current customer service system. With an integrated customer service solution that covers multiple platforms, it’s our hope that by empowering call centre workers with the right tools to perform at their best, consumers will be able to reap the benefits on their preferred channel. “

All figures from the research, unless otherwise stated, are from 3Gem: Total sample size of the omnibus survey was 2000 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 5th June 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Total sample size of the focus group was 12 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23 May 2023. The survey was carried out online via Roots Research.

About Infobip

Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected experiences across all stages of the customer journey. Accessed through a single platform, Infobip’s omnichannel engagement, identity, user authentication and contact centre solutions help businesses and partners overcome the complexity of consumer communications to grow business and increase loyalty. With over a decade of industry experience, Infobip has expanded to 70+ offices worldwide. It offers natively built technology with the capacity to reach over seven billion mobile devices and ‘things’ in 6 continents connected directly to over 700 telecom networks. Infobip was established in 2006 and is led by its co-founders, CEO Silvio Kutić, Roberto Kutić and Izabel Jelenić.