European complaint levels vary

25 August 2011

LONDON: British consumers are more likely than their German, Italian and French counterparts to complain after receiving poor customer service from retailers, a study has found.

Kelkoo, the ecommerce site, surveyed 11,000 web users in the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands and Italy, and found that 67% of respondents would complain if they received sub-standard customer service in a store.

Totals peaked at 96% in the UK, measured against scores of 95% in Germany and 91% in Italy, but dropped sharply to 42% among members of the French panel.

The most commonly-used methods of complaining included writing or sending an email to a retailer's head office, mentioned by 83% of contributors, while 65% raised issues face-to-face.

Exactly 20% of the sample made negative opinions known via review websites and 14% used social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same purpose.

Chris Simpson, Kelkoo's chief marketing officer, said: "Now more than ever retailers need to listen to consumer feedback and act upon it to protect their brand.

"This is particularly important in the age of social media, which is an extremely powerful and informative tool for consumers and retailers."

The primary reasons participants gave for not stating their dissatisfaction with the service received was a lack of time, on 42%, while 37% did not believe it would achieve anything and 31% were "too embarrassed".

Substantial variation was observable between countries, as 90% of French shoppers tended to "shy away" from confrontation, but just 22% of Britons did the same.

Similarly, while 57% of interviewees across Europe typically regretted not displaying their discontent, figures rose to 64% in the UK.

Among the main causes encouraging British consumers to complain were disappointing customer service on 82%, poor products on 76%, rude staff on 60%, and delivery problems on 52%.

But a majority of UK shoppers would also consider returning to the same store where they experienced such issues, the study said.

Data sourced from Kelkoo; additional content by Warc staff