01 February 2000

BETTER SERVICE is the quid pro quo demanded by consumers who receive direct mail and outbound sales calls. So says BT in Putting Customers First, a new report on customer relationship management, based on a survey of 1,000 people last October.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents said that they would be willing to provide personal information to marketers as long as this enhanced customer service. However, consumers have very definite expectations about the way in which their data is used. Over one in four expect suppliers to learn from every communication between them, while a further 24% expect marketers to learn from most transactions.

Building societies and supermarkets are perceived to be the most responsive to their customers, with 31% of the sample saying that they respond well to customer needs and requests. At the opposite end of the scale languish electricity suppliers and cable/satellite companies; their response to customer needs is poor, say 26% of respondents.

BT's Trazie Flynn [who labours under the most risible job title yet unearthed by Debrief: 'head of knowledge management propositions', would you believe?] aptly summarised public attitudes to customer service: 'Consumers are cash rich and time poor. They want companies to make things easier.'