Customer service improving but 1 in 3 still not happy
Consumers switch energy providers twice as often as banks
UK consumers think that levels of customer service have improved since the start of the financial crisis.
A survey by business standards company BSO found that 22.9% of 2,047 UK adults interviewed now think customer service is improving, up from 9.1% in 2008. The number of people who think it is getting worse has more than halved (from 64% in 2008 to 29.1% today).
Despite the positive shift, the picture is not perfect with almost 1 in 3 respondents (29.1%) thinking customer service is getting worse and are choosing to switch provider. The reasons most commonly cited for switching include:
• Uncompetitive price of service/product (42.5%)
• Poor service/product quality (40.6%)
• Bad attitude of employees (39.4%)
• Poor handling of complaints (33.1%)
Changing attitudes have had the most impact in the energy sector, with consumers nearly twice as likely to switch energy providers (9.5%) compared with banks (5.3%). Internet providers and supermarkets also performed poorly, losing around 8% and 6% respectively.
Percentage switching to a competitor after poor service
The growing influence of social digital media channels (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) and use of online technologies (forums and blogs) could have contributed to the improvement in customer service since 2007. The research found that 49.2% of UK consumers say online review sites such as TripAdvisor and Amazon influence their opinion when buying or choosing products or services, and almost 1 in 5 respondents had complained or commented about poor service using social media.
BSI says many businesses have taken note of this consumer action and behaviour and are acting to protect their reputations and business profits.
Dan Palmer head of market development for services at BSI, commented: “Good customer service is a critical and essential element in customer retention. Although this research shows that customer service has improved greatly, businesses still have a long way to go in bolstering the loyalty of their customers. Businesses need to work smarter to stand out from the competition and to meet customer expectations.”
BSI has just re-launched its customer service standard BS 8477, first published in 2007. It says improvements over the last five years could be attributed to businesses using such standards to help them to focus more clearly on their customer service offering. The newly revised standard captures best practice for establishing an effective customer service culture within an organization and for increasing customer satisfaction.