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UK customers fed up with bad customer service

21st Apr 2006
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UK customers are frustrated with the consistently poor service provided by organisations in the UK according to a study by RightNow Technologies, with respondents indicating that one quarter of their customer service experiences in the last year have been negative.

The study, entitled "The Customer Experience Report, Great Britain 2006", reveals that 65 per cent of all respondents moved their business elsewhere after a bad service experience, while more than one quarter - 27 per cent - of Britons also indicate that once their custom is lost, it is lost forever.

On the other hand, positive customer experiences have a major impact on consumers’ brand perceptions and buying behaviour, with 78 per cent of participants saying that they would be most likely to 'greatly or somewhat' increase their custom on the basis of consistently excellent service.

"We know that consumers vote with their feet and defect if the customer experience isn't up-to-scratch; we also know that businesses are being mandated to control or reduce operating costs," said Wayne Foncette RightNow’s vice president of UK & Ireland. "They feel it's a catch 22 situation: either spend money to improve the customer experience or cut costs and risk losing customers. What’s needed is a breakthrough to resolve this service/cost dilemma that drives enriched customer experience across all key interactions, such as sales, marketing and service, by delivering knowledge to the customer at the point of action."

RightNow argues that the study shows the relation between an effective customer service agent and consumer opinion and that providing an excellent consumer experience can be a business differentiator as well as directly impacting on revenue.

But those organisations offering poor customer experiences find it challenging to eliminate the problems that traditionally roadblock success. These include the service/cost dilemma, where costs increase in ratio with efforts to boost customer experience, while slashing costs means slashing service.

Winning back lost custom is extremely costly with more than half of respondents saying they would require evidence that the organisation’s customer service had improved, and 48 per cent stating that the organisation would have to prove that it valued their custom.

Commonly used call centre practices appear to cause Britons high levels of frustration. The worst culprits were ‘being put on hold for a long time’, ‘automated voice responses that do not include the option needed’ and ‘automated menus that seem to travel in circles’, more than two-thirds of the adults found these to be extremely frustrating.

From a vertical industry perspective, the worst service experiences come from dealing with telecom providers and the public sector, while their experiences with the retail sector had been the most positive.

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