A new survey on customer experience and consumer behaviour has suggested that businesses in Australia, New Zealand and India suffer significant losses every year due to poor customer service over the web, in the contact centre, or via mobile devices.

Greenfield Online conducted the 28-question survey of 500 consumers in each of the three countries, for a total of more than 1,500 diverse participants representing virtually every age and income bracket.

While in most cases the individual will turn to a competitor for the business, in over 30% of instances the consumer simply decides not to spend any money – a decision the survey said potentially undermined local economies.

In Australia alone, businesses lost more than USD$2.191 billion per year due to poor customer service, the survey found. The survey also found the cost of poor customer service in New Zealand totals more than USD$995.6 million and USD$2.46 billion in India.

Respondents to the survey said some of their key annoyances are automated, difficult to navigate, self-service programs that don’t let them reach a human agent, along with working with agents who are not empowered to make decisions, and having to repeat information – such as name and account number – every time their call is forwarded to another department.

According to the survey, 72% of Australian consumers say they have ended a relationship due to poor customer service, and 56% had an experience that made them more likely to do so in the past year, and most transactions abandoned due to poor customer service turn into business for a competitor (70%), with a significant number are completely abandoned and lost to all companies (30%).

In Australia the phone is still the preferred channel of interaction (64%), followed by email (22%) and web self-service (8%).