Retailers top UK service charts

14 September 2011

LONDON: Retailers are seen as providing the best customer service levels in the UK, but banks, carmakers and utilities firms lag behind in this area, a study has found.

Econsultancy, the insights group, surveyed 2,000 consumers in the country to gain an understanding of their experiences with companies in various industry sectors.

Overall, 47% of respondents suggested that retailers demonstrated the strongest credentials, with this category considerably ahead of the others assessed in the study.

In evidence of this, retail banks scored a modest 16% on the same metric, while the travel industry logged 15%.

Automakers trailed even further with 10%, but still beat utilities firms, such as gas and electricity companies, on 8%, not to mention the tiny 4% registered by telecoms providers.

When discussing individual brand owners, Amazon, the online retailer, Tesco, the supermarket chain, Virgin, the airline, and BT, the telecoms specialist, topped the charts.

"Customer service is an area where businesses, in a competitive marketplace, can really stand out and differentiate themselves," said Warren Buckley, BT's managing director, customer services.

"While many are still lagging behind, there is a growing number of savvy companies that, instead of viewing customer service as a cost centre, see it as a way for them to excel and increase brand loyalty."

Indeed, one in every eight consumers surveyed agreed they would pay a premium for higher quality service.

The phone was recognised as the most established customer service channel, although only 33% of the sample cited it as their favoured method for resolving issues and enquiries.

A 39% share of contributors argued this medium was the most effective way to contact a brand or company, but 48% of the panel also described it as the "most frustrating".

Email was named as the preferred customer service tool by 44% of participants, and less than a fifth of shoppers perceived it as being a source of frustration.

Data sourced from Econsultancy; additional content by Warc staff