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UK customer service lags US

News, 09 May 2016

LONDON/NEW YORK: US brands are more advanced than their UK counterparts for delivering great customer experience, according to a new study, which finds British organisations lagging in all industry segments except telecoms and the public sector.

Consultancy KPMG Nunwood questioned more than 7,500 US consumers about 243 brands across ten sectors and concluded that US customers are six times more likely to have an outstanding experience than customers in the UK.

Although British brands are reported to be catching up on their US counterparts, they are still at least three years away from matching them in terms of customer service, the study said.

KPMG Nunwood attributed the success of US companies to their willingness to break down internal structural barriers, which certainly involves the effective use of technology, but most especially revolves around empowering staff to solve issues.

The study proposed that structuring organisations to remove management layers and empower employees to make decisions drives a "service recovery paradox".

This means that customer complaints or issues are not just put right, but that customers end up feeling better about the organisation than they did before.

"The US particularly outperforms the UK when it comes to resolving customers' problems. They remove management layers, and empower employees to make decisions and deal with issues as the customer's first point of contact," said David Conway, director at KPMG Nunwood.

"This great service leaves the customer feeling better about the organisation than before the problem arose. This is known as the 'service recovery paradox' and is unfortunately still a holy grail for many UK businesses."

American brands also perform well by focusing on the detail, the report added, as it identified many of them offering "signature experiences" that contribute to a great overall customer experience.

It also said that US organisations are better in various other important areas, such as segmentation and tracking the customer journey.

"UK companies are often simply not designed to deliver a seamless customer journey, with customers suffering as they pass through each silo of the business," said Conway.

"No matter the good intentions of each department, the result for the customer is too often disruptive."

Data sourced from KPMG Nunwood; additional content by Warc staff