Consumers can be demanding, especially in a time of need. But, customer service can worsen during turmoil. In fact, a recent survey shows that that the down economy has highlighted weaknesses in customer service, and consumers are fed up and don’t think just visiting a company’s Web site will help.

Seventy-one percent of insurance consumers reported that they preferred access to a live person to handle their issues according to solution provider Jacada, which commissioned a survey of 1,000 American consumers to determine their attitudes toward—and perceptions of—today’s customer service. Additionally, 69% of the respondents are less willing to put up with poor customer service than they were a year ago.

Despite respondents’ intolerance of poor customer service, they are in greater need of customer service. Compared to a year ago, 24% said they have seen an increase in the number of urgent or serious issues that require them to contact customer service.

In the past 12 months, consumers have had to deal with three issues more frequently than before:
1.    Roughly a quarter (26%) cited a billing mistake or incorrect charge. 

2.    Nearly as many (22%) said that a bill was higher than expected.

3.    Nearly one in five (17%) said canceling services or accounts.

Many survey results have shown that more consumers are using the Web to get quotes and even purchase insurance. A study from comScore Inc. analyzed the online behavior of U.S. consumers in March 2009, and found that 63% of respondents went online to obtain price quotes.

However, consumers also aren’t happy with online customer service, according to Jacada’s survey results. More than three in five Americans (62%) reported feeling frustrated when having to resolve an urgent or serious issue using a company’s customer service Web site. For urgent or serious issues, 89% preferred to work with a customer service representative over the phone rather than using the Web site’s self-help functions.

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