Young annoyed by poor retail service

21 August 2014

GLASGOW: Almost one third of UK consumers have become less loyal to retail brands in the past five years, with poor service the most commonly cited reason and younger consumers disproportionately affected according to a new survey.

KANA Software, a customer service specialist, surveyed 2,000 UK consumers and identified the need to repeat complaints to numerous different people within the same organisation as a particular bugbear.

Almost half of respondents (48%) said they had to repeat information during their last communication with a retailer. And while all age groups said this was a problem, it happened most frequently for customers under the age of 35 where one in 20 repeated themselves at least five times.

That need for repetition showed "poor management of customer data, channels and context, but more fundamentally a lack of ownership of the consumer's problem and lack of appreciation for their effort levels," according to Steven Thurlow, head of worldwide product strategy for KANA.

Only 30% of younger customers had their issue resolved after one interaction. By contrast, 64% of customers over the age of 65 did not have to repeat their complaint at all, feeling satisfied after first contact.

This disparity had a clear impact on loyalty: of those who felt less loyal to retail brands, 37% of 18-to-24-year-olds cited service as the key factor versus just 20% of those aged 65 and older.

"The younger generation has higher expectations of digital channels, collaborative and social communications and asks 'how hard can it be.' They won't take seriously an organisation that is unable to do the basics right, and these expectations are rising all the time," Thurlow said.

In the past six months, more than 10% of those surveyed had used at least five different customer channels to contact a retailer, emphasising the need for companies to be connected as well as customers.

"Without a true sense that different channels of communication are linked, people feel that they are wasting their time and, ultimately, this leads to an erosion of loyalty in the retail brand," Thurlow concluded.

That is also illustrative of a common failing in brands' relationship with consumers. Writing in Market Leader, Nichola Raihani of University College London, argued that too many businesses did not understand the need for reciprocity with consumers. Thus, even when a consumer knew they were at fault, in a long-standing relationship with a brand they would expect some leniency.

Data sourced from BusinessWire; additional content by Warc staff