New survey shows how companies are using COVID as an excuse to not answer the phone

A new survey suggests that an increasing number of companies are using the COVID pandemic as an excuse for poor communications with customers. The survey of 1,000 US adults, by leading communications company Moneypenny, shows that 83% of people believe that 10 months into the pandemic, an increasing number of companies are stating that there will be a delay in answering phone calls, or engaging in live chat, due to unusually high call volumes caused by the pandemic.

However, what is surprising is that people seem understanding of the situation, as 61% said they believe phone delays are acceptable due to COVID. This contrasts with 55% of a further 1,000 adults surveyed in the UK who believe such delays are inevitable. Middle-aged US consumers seem more accepting of delays than older ones: 76% of 35-44 year olds said phone answering delays are acceptable, compared with 54% of the over 55 year olds.

There were also clear regional differences in acceptance levels: 64% of those in the South said phone answering delays are acceptable, compared with 59% in the Midwest.

Group CEO of Moneypenny, Joanna Swash, believes companies are not doing enough to resolve waiting times: “It’s interesting that legal and property companies were least likely to be mentioned for poor answering times as we know from our clients in these sectors that they prioritize good customer service. However, the survey shows that the pandemic is too often being used as a scapegoat for companies delivering unbelievably poor communications, and consumers should not accept this as inevitable. Even with reduced staff through redundancies and furloughing, there are so many cost-effective solutions available to ensure customer calls and live chat can continue, so it’s not good enough for companies to do nothing and reduce service levels. As businesses open, there is a real danger that customers will move to a competitor because of poor service levels.”