Are customer service standards in the UK slipping?

Aug 20, 2014 • Call CentreClickSoftwareFeaturesManagementResearchService StandardstomtomTrimble

Poor service has become a commonplace scourge within the UK with service issues costing consumers nearly £15 billion a year research shows…

In fact over two thirds of UK customers (69%) have been frustrated by poor customer service, almost a half (46%) have demanded to speak to a supervisor and just over a third (34%) have stopped using the brand altogether.

These results are part of the findings from a global report by ClickSoftware, which was designed to assess what were the key frustrations faced by consumers.

Against a backdrop of recent ongoing billing problems with energy companies, over half (52%) of UK residents found utilities companies to be the most frustrating to deal with. It was found that spending over an hour trying to resolve an issue such as billing problem or a loss of power was a regular occurrence. In fact the average time people waited for a resolution was an incredible 4.3 hours.

Communication service providers were second on the list of poor service providers with over a quarter (29%) of consumers irritated at the amount of time they wasted with them. These were followed by Central Government (18%) and banking (15%), in third and fourth place respectively.

The economic impact of this sloppy service is not just restricted to the guilty parties however. UK workers are having to take time off to attend to matters during their working hours to resolve issues. The study revealed a total loss of nearly £15 billion a year, and an individual loss of almost £500 per person.

Then there is the emotional cost. Even the famously reserved British demeanour has it’s limits and over one in 10 (13%) of Brits have been driven so mad by bad service they have admitted to losing their cool and yelling at a service representative.

Meanwhile others have gone to extreme lengths to get better or quicker service, including lying (9%), crying to the service representative (real or fake tears) (4%) or even begging (3%).

Robert Williams, Vice President of UK & Ireland of ClickSoftware reflected on the findings commenting:

This is a timely reminder for businesses that customer service is still one of the biggest factors in attracting and retaining customers

“This is a timely reminder for businesses that customer service is still one of the biggest factors in attracting and retaining customers,”


“Bad customer service is costing business up to a third of their revenue, and the knock on effect is that people are having to take precious holiday time just to deal with things that could and should be sorted much more easily.”

Aly Pinder, Senior Research Analyst at the Aberdeen Group and Field Service News columnist also commented:

“Ultimately, satisfied customers help drive retention and profitability for service organisations. Our research found those that reached a 90%+ customer satisfaction rate achieved an annual 6.1% growth in service revenue, 3.7% growth in overall revenue, and an 89% level of customer retention”

Meanwhile a separate research project, conducted by the CCA on behalf of Customer Engagement Optimisation specialists KANA indicated that the majority of UK organisations are dramatically underestimating the link between customer service and revenue.

Fast service and good customer experiences are not always the same thing.

 The survey of UK Contact Centre Association (CCA) members included respondents from a wide and diverse blend of varying industry verticals including financial services, retail and local government. Perhaps the most striking finding of this research was that less than half (40%) of those in senior management believed that customer service was key to driving revenue. In fact a fifth of respondents felt there was little or even no focus on customer service at a senior level.


Other findings of the survey also showed a distinct lack of appreciation of the link between customer service and the bottom line. Again well under half (41%) paid significant attention to the level the revenue they lost as a result of poor customer service. Incredibly, one in ten companies do not measure the financial implications of poor customer service at all.

The research also highlights what call centre agents perceive as key barriers to providing a better service: outdated systems, lack of investment, agent skills gaps and a lack of understanding or support at a senior level.

Unfortunately, the contact centre is often seen as an operational expense and nothing more,” says Steven Thurlow, head of worldwide product strategy for KANA. “Often, senior management will review functional aspects, such as speed of handling times and resolution times. This approach is unlikely to drive further investment and instead maintains a focus on efficiency above all else. Fast service and good customer experiences are not always the same thing.”

However, whilst it seems that Customer Service in the UK is suffering from poor standards whilst being woefully overlooked as a key factor in ensuring and growing revenue streams, yet further study has revealed clear evidence that there is an intrinsic link between customer satisfaction and business success.

71% of field service organisations use customer satisfaction as the main metric to measure the performance of their business

In fact research conducted by Trimble Field Service Management highlighted that 71% of field service organisations use customer satisfaction as the main metric to measure the performance of their business. A recent industry report based around research commissioned by Trimble highlighted that there was a proven link between customer satisfaction, retention and profitability.


So are we facing a true disconnect between the impact customer service can have on field service businesses and the attention it gets within senior management? Are these frustrations related solely to the call centre or are they reflected in the levels of service delivered on the doorstep also?

We’re currently running a short survey ourselves which aims to assess the survey standards of companies in the field. If you want to find out how your standards compare to your competitors then take two minutes to complete the survey to receive a free copy of the benchmark report based on the results when published.

Also thanks to our sponsor on this project TomTom Telematics there is also a prize draw with three £50 Amazon vouchers available.

Click here to complete the survey and enter the prize draw now.