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Poor customer service sees UK consumer walk-out

14th July 2011 Print

Consumers in the UK are rebelling against poor customer service and are voting with their feet according to new research from American Express. Around 30 per cent of Britons believe that businesses are taking their custom for granted, with nearly four out of five (78 per cent) of those surveyed deciding not to make an intended purchase because of poor customer service.

The latest Customer Services Barometer from American Express surveyed consumers from across the globe and found that the UK was one of the top three countries (alongside Italy and Australia) where consumers felt that companies were paying less attention to customer service than they used to.

Indeed, only two per cent of consumers in the UK believe that companies exceed their customer services expectations, despite the fact that 68 per cent of people say that they would be willing to pay more in order to receive good customer service. On average these consumers would be willing to pay up to 10 per cent extra, while nearly one in ten (8 per cent) said that they would pay as much as 20 per cent extra in order to get the service they desire.

Ian Lundberg, Senior Vice President, World Service at American Express said: “At a time when household finances remain tight, consumers are looking for organisations that go the extra mile. Whether buying the weekly shop, splashing out on an annual holiday or managing their daily finances, it’s important customers understand that not only do we value their custom, but that they feel they are valued and not taken for granted.”

The survey also revealed that smaller businesses are perceived by the vast majority (82 per cent) of Britons to place greater emphasis on customer service than their larger counterparts.

Ian Lundberg, continued: “For the most part consumers appreciate that, although annoying, sometimes mistakes happen and that companies are not infallible. However, it is how they deal with resolving an issue after the event that leaves a lasting impression on how they are viewed by the customer”.

When asked about customer service professionals dealing with an issue or concern, over half (59 per cent) of all UK consumers said that having a ‘friendly representative who listens to their concerns’ and was ultimately able to ‘solve their issue’ (57 per cent) were the leading factors that made for a satisfactory experience.

However, one of the biggest irritations when dealing with companies is the standard phrases being used by service centre staff. Indeed, the following three phrases topped the list of most hated customer service sayings:

Sorry but we are experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold or call back another time. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Your call is important to us, please continue to hold.

We’re unable to answer your question. Would you please call this number so that you can speak to a representative from another team?