Top Customer Service Fails of 2016


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If you’ve ever tweeted about waiting on hold with a call center your frustrations have likely been cataloged on the website The site scans Twitter for complaints about being on hold with customer service and categorizes them in real-time by company and industry name. Fonolo launched this as a public service so that people could vent about waiting on hold, while organizations can see just how much goodwill they are losing from customers.

For many, simply knowing that they are not alone provides comfort during an otherwise anxiety ridden experience. The larger purpose of the site is to bring awareness to the problem of long hold times and help companies benefit from potential solutions.

Over the year, every complaint that was directed at a company on Twitter, and contained the phrase ‘on hold with’, was tracked and recorded. The results are revealed in “The Top 25 Worst Hold Time Offenders of 2016” list, which counts down the companies who experienced the highest number of customer complaints about waiting on hold.

The biggest surprises? Amazon and Apple’s appearances on the list are more unexpected than others. It seems despite Amazon’s best efforts, they need to ramp up their operations to compensate for supply and demand. And while Apple is no stranger to consumer popularity, it moved up from fifth place to first place on this year’s list; a fair warning for those hoping to make any last minute MacBook purchases for the holidays.

The most unsurprising? The IRS and the DMV. We’ve grown to expect that anything government related will be slow and aggravating. But if you want a laugh, the IRS tweets are among the most humorous to say the least, including one of our favorites: “Hey @IRSnews I’ve been on hold for 30 minutes, whatcha doin over there? Hopefully finishing up @realDonaldTrump ‘s tax audit! #humor

Then there’s those pesky telecom providers who are headed for a chilly response from customers waiting on hold (32% of the top offenders come from a telecommunications company). In fact, there’s a bit of a pattern from an industry perspective.

The top 5 worst industries are as follows:

  1. Telecommunications (32%)
  2. Airline/Travel (20%)
  3. Retail (16%)
  4. Financial (12%)
  5. Government (1%)

But in all fairness, every call center is vulnerable to unexpected weather conditions, agent absenteeism and increased call volume resulting in long hold time. The best approach for avoiding a call center catastrophe? Equip your contact center with the necessary solutions to defend against these problems.

If you’re looking for more information about reducing hold time in the call center, read “The ROI of Call-Backs for Your Call Center.”

Nicolina Savelli
Nicolina is the Marketing Manager at Wily Global (WILY) and manages their customer activation blog. WILY is a marketing technology company that develops innovative solutions for organizations to engage and incentivize consumers wherever they are. WILY's proprietary SPRY technology provides highly secure and dynamic solutions for sports teams, B2B, B2C, eCommerce, finance sector and government clients alike.


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