There’s nothing more British than a mild gripe about politeness, which goes a long way to explaining why three-quarters of British consumers say they want businesses to up their game when it comes to their phone manner.
Surveying 1,000 consumers from the UK on the impact of politeness in customer service, research consultancy TNS and PH Media Group found that just 23% of respondents are satisfied with the general phone manner of UK businesses.
This is particularly poignant among the older generation, with only 12% of 55 to 64 year-olds claiming to be pleased with the phone manner of the UK businesses they interact with, in contrast to 34% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 27% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
"There is perhaps a tendency among companies to focus their attention and budgets on visual marketing and internet presence but the telephone remains a crucial aspect of branding, marketing and sales,” says Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director, PH Media Group.
"If only 23% of customers are pleased with the way their calls are being handled, this means there is an even larger number who have generated a negative perception through bad caller experience."
Levels of satisfaction fluctuate throughout Britain; Londoners are considered the most content with 32% claiming to be satisfied with how their calls are handled, followed by Wales and the South West (27%) and the Midlands (25%).
On the other hand, northerners appear to be the most unhappy, with only 15% of Scots satisfied, followed by Yorkshire and the North East (16%) and the North West (18%).
"Regardless of the regional differences, satisfaction levels remain low across the board, so there is an onus on businesses to address this by improving overall caller experience," added Williamson.
"Responding to calls quicker or establishing a set practice for answering the phone both represent a good start but true best practice can be achieved by implementing tools such as on-hold marketing - bespoke voice and music messages that are played on hold - in order to establish top-class service and a congruent brand across all touchpoints with customers."
Phone politeness appears to be a very British bugbear - a recent survey by CorvisaCloud stated that, among US consumers, the biggest issue with call centres was the apparent lack of interest and reading from scripts, with 80% of respondents ‘vexed’ by calls that involved ‘robotic’ call centre agents.
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.