So much of customer service should be easy, and yet companies screw it up every day.

A new survey by Consumer Reports finds that the top three gripes of customers are the inability to reach a human on the phone, phone trees, and rude salespeople. Rounding out the top five: long hold times and unhelpful solutions.

What the survey results suggest is that companies that excel at customer service are doing three things right:

1. Using technology to improve customer service (e.g., answering the phone, phone callbacks instead of keeping you on a holding cue, live Web chat options, useful online FAQs, Twitter support, and so forth).

2. Empowering employees so they can solve problems rather than read a problem-solving script (read The Key To Great Customer Service for a great example of this).

3. Listening to customers (e.g., picking good hold music instead of playing sales messages on an endless loop, selling rather than trying to up-sell).

Is any of this really so hard to figure out?