Research reveals what the public really wants from customer service


As National Customer Service Week gets underway (it runs from today until Friday), research by The Institute of Customer Service has claimed that one in six Britons claim to experience poor customer service at least once a week, with many blaming the attitude and competence of staff.

More than 2,000 consumers were questioned about the service levels they experience.  The biggest concerns raised include employees lacking the capability to be of immediate help (56%), ‘disinterested’ staff (51%), poor complaint handling (35%), and ‘unhelpful’ attitudes (36%).  As a result, 84% believe customer-facing staff need more training to reverse the trend.

When it comes to securing brand loyalty, the British public considers a courteous and helpful attitude (18%), staff providing correct information at the first attempt (17%) and professionalism (16%) as the top three attributes, warning that anything less will turn them away.

Despite the British public’s reputation for patience, most UK consumers demand a speedy response rate. Almost half (46%) expect a response within 24 hours if they contact an organisation via email, with over two fifths (42%) saying the same for website contact and one third (33%) for social media enquiries. Instant online chat is now also ranked by 73% of consumers as the best way to deal with an organisation.

To support organisations as they strive to meet consumer demands, The Institute has launched a new Academy – offering a wide range of people development programmes, professional training and courses for employees in customer facing roles.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “Excellent customer service is something we all demand and something we all expect, yet it is clearly not something we all see.  Anything less than the best service risks customers taking their business elsewhere and, in today’s uncertain economy, there are no organisations that can afford to take long-term customer relationships for granted.

“With 70% of the UK’s working population in a customer-facing role the impact that good service can have on customers should be the number one concern. Service skills may come naturally for some, but where they are absent, they can be still be learned. Successful executive teams  realise that by focusing on service skills development they are investing in the long-term stability and future of their organisation.”

This week is National Customer Service Week, and we’re  focusing on issues around customer services in the public sector.

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