Survey results suggest that more than 15 million UK adults rank being stuck on hold with a telephone operator their top annoyance of 2015.
The findings correlate with fresh data showing that almost one in three UK customer care managers believe their biggest weakness is reliance on old customer service techniques, including traditional call centres.
Commissioned independently by Lithium Technologies, a survey of 2,000 UK consumers revealed that the top three factors that drive customer call centre annoyance are communication barriers caused by language differences (56%), having to go through several options and security checks before talking to a real person (48%), and the call centre representative sounding like they're following a script and not offering personalised advice (37%).
From an industry perspective, communication providers (34.20%) and utility companies (33.20%) frustrated consumers most, followed by financial services institutions (23%).
The consumer findings come amidst evidence from UK businesses that customer service expectations are continuing to increase. A survey of 250 UK customer care managers, conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies, showed that four in five (82.40%) believe customers have become more demanding over the past three years. And more than half of them (56%) suggested that digital will evolve to become a primary customer care channel, minimising response times and better serving consumers.
The customer care survey highlighted that while managers believe digital strategies are critical for meeting rising customer expectations, they are under-resourced to take the necessary steps to adapt.
The survey found that almost a third (31.20%) of customer care managers believe their biggest weakness is reliance on old customer service techniques, while more than a quarter (27.20%) said their main weakness is underinvesting in a consistent 360-degree customer service experience across all channels.
When asked about the future, more than half (56.00%) of customer care managers said that customer service will evolve to focus more on using online channels to minimise response time to queries, while almost a third (29.20%) said customer service will be an entirely online process within five years.
Lack of financial resources is restraining digital transformation within many customer service departments. More than six in 10 (62%) customer care managers admitted that having the necessary budget is the main issue their company faces in adapting to digital customer service.
"This data highlights the ineffectiveness of traditional call centres in meeting rising customer expectations, as well as the growing need for UK businesses to explore new ways to engage customers, particularly in the digital sphere," said Katy Keim, Chief Marketing Officer of Lithium Technologies.
"Today's customer expects a premium level of customer service, and businesses that don't evolve beyond the traditional call centre risk being left behind."