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Invest in customer service skills, urges survey

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20th Jan 2011
Editor, HRzone.co.uk Sift Media
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As the consumer spending market becomes increasingly fragile, organisations must invest in developing staff customer service skills in order to avoid losing business and suffering the effects of a tarnished reputation.
 

According to a survey among 2,082 UK adults undertaken by YouGov on behalf of training provider Kaplan, some 47% indicated that they had boycotted a company that had failed to serve them well. Some 77% had told friends and family about bad customer service experiences, 47% had actively filed a complaint, while 26% had posted a negative review online.
 
The main bugbear was staff chatting to each other when consumers needed assistance (48%). Other gripes included over-zealous personnel approaching them to ask if they required help (16%), employees simply not being available to assist (16%) and staff being unable to answer questions (10%).
 
The worst providers of customer service were deemed to be utility companies (22% of respondents), followed by high street retailers (21%).
 
James Hammill, head of apprenticeships at Kaplan, said: “With the race to capture consumer cash more competitive than ever, good customer service has never been so important. This online research shows that consumers won’t stand for poor treatment and can take extreme measures as a result.”
 
As to what good customer service meant in practice, just over a third of respondents indicated that their top priority was to deal with knowledgeable staff who were able to answer questions (35%).
 
Duncan Baker from the Institute of Customer Service, said: “Good customer service means, among other skills, attending to queries quickly and efficiently, adopting the correct tone and manner and sensing the customer’s needs immediately.”

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