Customer service departments that cannot remember the past are doomed to losing customers for their employers, a new survey shows.

U.S. consumers, tired of being treated like strangers when they deal with customer service representatives, say their biggest gripe is clueless customer service reps. Three-quarters of those who have ever called customer support reported frustration because the representative didn't know the customer's history with the company or organization, according to an online survey.

The survey of more than 2,200 U.S. customers ages 18 years and older, was conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Sugar CRM, a customer relationship management company.

For many customers, poor customer service causes more than just complaints. It can lead customers to take their business elsewhere, the survey found. More than half (52 percent) of respondents said they ultimately decided not to buy a product or service from a company due to a negative experience with a sales representative.

Those who have communicated with customer service using social media channels report an even higher level of frustration. Slightly more than four out of five (81 percent) of survey respondents who had sought customer service through such channels reported frustration because the representative didn't know the customer's history with the company. 

Additionally, consumers using social media channels reacted more vigorously to poor service. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) said that decided not to buy a product or service due to a negative experience with a sales rep.

"Whether customers are seeking service by traditional or social media channels, this survey shows that they are incredibly disillusioned by the lack of customer expertise they’re encountering in the businesses they rely on," said Larry Augustin,  CEO of SugarCRM. "These findings should offer a wake-up call to all companies whose existence depends on happy customers.

"It’s clear that businesses need to do a far better job of providing each customer facing professional with the information they need to understand and effectively engage with their customers. Businesses need to make every customer-facing user an instant customer expert. They must understand the individual they are speaking with and ensure every interaction drives value for the customer. This is the next generation of CRM."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.