FOUNDED BY executives from 45 companies in sectors as diverse as retail banking, supermarkets, IT, telecommunications, entertainment and leisure, the new Institute of Customer Service aims to encourage UK businesses to provide professional training for their customer service staff. Explains founding member Susan Goss-Clements, head of marketing at customer service provider Ventura: 'Consumers are getting quite a raw deal and, because there isn't that much difference between prices and products, com-panies are being forced to take action as they realise service is becoming business-critical.' The Institute is funding an ad campaign to promote itself and its transferable qualification training courses to the management and staff of its founding members. Research conducted by Ventura discovered that the UK lags well behind France, Germany and Italy in perceptions of its customer service standards. Only 26% of European respondents ranked customer service in the UK better than that in their own countries.