Everyone who’s ever had cable, Internet or phone lines installed, had anything in their house repaired, or came home to get a delivery knows that waiting is painful. Be it the cable company’s infamous 4-hour window, or a field tech’s failure to arrive on time, making customers wait isn’t good for anyone involved in the process.

Well, turns out waiting is more than just annoying. TOA Technologies, a London-based company that makes fleet management software, said that Americans lose more than $37 billion over the course of a year waiting for field service workers, and that 58 percent of Americans waited for services. That’s a mind-blowing and incredibly explicit demonstration of why companies need to treat customer service as a core part of their businesses, and that managing their fleets is key to making customers happy.

A few other interesting tidbits from the survey:

  • Americans waited nearly four-and-a-half hours, on average – two hours and thirty minutes longer than expected – for service appointments. More than a quarter of respondents reported lost wages and 50 percent wasted a sick day or vacation day to wait at home for a service or delivery.
  • More than 80 percent of respondents said the skill of a service technician was the most critical component in creating an overall positive experience.
  • It costs businesses $330 annually for every lost customer and can cost many times that to re-acquire them.
  • Seventy percent of respondents said that they would recommend a company solely because an appointment was on time.

The survey also pointed out how quickly customers are to complain online when techs are late just under half said they’ll hit their social media channels to complain after waiting for an hour, with some saying they’d react after waiting jut 15 minutes. Virgin America airlines learned this the hard way this week when their switch to a new reservation system left many customers with double reservations, incorrect boarding passes, and – worst of all – hours of wait time for customers to get it sorted out.

Take a quick look at Virgin’s Twitter feed – it’s a customer service horror show, and a terrible setback for a company that had prided itself and built its brand on fantastic customer service.

Read through TOA’s report, there’s a ton of eye-opening data in there and something every company in the field service industry should think about.

Read more about field service on The SmartVan

ABOUT Corey Lewis

Avatar photoCorey Lewis is an experienced writer, editor, PR pro and marketer with a deep background in technology, social media, and internet tools and culture.