Australians have some of the lowest expectations of customer service in world, according to the latest findings of the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer.

The international study found when it comes to waiting on the phone for service Australians are prepared to wait, on average, a staggering 14 minutes before hanging up; third only to India and Mexico.

Lisa Vehrenkamp, American Express managing director, said consumers had become resigned to long, frustrating waits for telephone service, with 14 per cent of consumers now prepared to wait for 30 minutes or more.

“At a time when many businesses are facing fierce competition, building loyalty is key. Today companies should be asking: ‘what’s best for my customers?’ and not leave them hanging on the line. The answer is simple: place greater investment and focus on customer care,” she said.

The research shows that Australians – more than anyone else – believe telephone wait times have worsened in the past year, with calling for support now becoming the ultimate patience test.

Presumably as a way to avoid the torturous wait on hold, the Barometer shows that consumers are relying on ‘self service’ methods, such as using a company’s website or sending an email, to resolve simple issues.

Rather than lose their cool when their patience is tested, Australian consumers remain relatively calm. Only 41 per cent have lost their temper in the past year with a customer service provider – the fourth lowest result globally – testament to the nation’s acceptance of poor service.

Among Australian consumers who have used social media to get a response from a company at least once in the past year, a third have then turned to platforms like Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustration.

Vehrenkamp said providing great service can deliver financial gain and help bring new customers through the door through the power of social media and word of mouth.

“Seven in ten Australian consumers are prepared to spend an average 12 per cent more for excellent service,” she said.

Professor Brett Whitford, from the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA), said companies with a call centre operation needed to focus on reducing call waiting times and broadening the channels through which their customers receive support.

“People want to receive service on their own terms in a way that suits them. Having multiple channels available such as email, Facebook and a physical presence gives consumers the choice they’re seeking,” she said.