• 82 per cent of Britons reveal that what they want most of all is to be treated politely
  • So-called customer-centric businesses are letting themselves down

Manners cost nothing but mean everything when it comes to customer service. And according to Singapore Airlines, customer service is less ‘human’ than 10 years ago.

Their new research has revealed that despite technological advancements, investment and fierce competition, customer service satisfaction amongst UK consumers has not improved in the past 10 years.

Despite 9 in 10 businesses claiming to be ‘customer-first’, the Singapore Airlines Customer Service Report, carried out with YouGov, clearly shows a gap between business behaviour and consumer satisfaction.

Nearly 6 in 10 respondents to the report, which looked at attitudes to customer service across 10 industry sectors, said they felt that customer service today is less ‘human’ than it was 10 years ago. Interestingly, it seems that consumers still yearn for traditional human interaction from businesses though, with consumers almost twice as likely to both complain to and compliment a business face to face versus using social media.

And while businesses may be fretting over how to improve their customer service standards, the survey results show that politeness tops customers’ service wish lists. Furthermore clarity and transparency come high up the list of priorities with three quarters (75 per cent) of customers appreciating an explanation for a problem and 64 per cent appreciating an apology and 37% a personalised service when dealing with someone face-to-face.

Wilson Yong, General Manager UK and Ireland for Singapore Airlines, commented:

“Every interaction a customer has with a business should consistently result in the highest standard of service. This is something Singapore Airlines has believed in from the very beginning and why we wanted to use our award-winning background in customer service to test the current state of consumer opinion. In fact, statistics confirm that companies ignore customer service at their peril, with 85% of customers saying that a bad personal experience of customer service would prevent them buying from that company again.

“Customer service is at the heart of what Singapore Airlines does and remains a key pillar of our brand promise. This is why we keep all lines of customer communication open – including face to face and telephone options – to ensure we provide the human response to complaints that customers are seeking, alongside insightful resolution to their feedback. Ensuring top customer service creates happy customers and brand ambassadors. However we are not complacent and the results of the Singapore Airlines Customer Service Report show that there is more we can all do to continue improving the customer service experience”.

And it seems that the poor standards of customer service are leading to complaints with more than one in 10 (14 per cent) businesses stating that they receive at least one complaint a day, with 16 per cent saying their brand has been affected by poor customer service. The news isn’t completely bad for businesses however as it appears that consumers could be ‘won back’, with 67 per cent of consumers saying that they would feel more favourable to a company if they were willing to listen and admit fault. In fact, good customer service appears to go a great length, with 38 per cent of Brits willing to fork out extra for better attention and care.

Furthermore businesses report that over last 10 years, the number of compliments being received has far outstripped the increase in the number of complaints – so much so that 17% of businesses claim never to receive complaints, versus only 3% of businesses who have not received any compliments.

Best in class and worst offenders

But which industries offer the best customer service? From a provided list, Hotels and long haul airlines came out top of the table, with real estate and telecoms coming out the worst. Hotels came out top because their staff members are polite (71 per cent) and long haul airlines staff give them their full attention (55 per cent) it seems therefore that disposable income items are rated highest for customer service.

 

 No.

Best customer service industries

%

No.

Worst customer service industries

%

1

Hotels

15

1

Real estate

0

2

Long haul airlines

13

2

Telecoms

1

3

Restaurants

11

3

Short haul airlines

2

4

Retail

8

4

Public transport

2

5

Banks

6

5

Technology

3

Singapore Airlines, whose new Premium Economy class debuts in the UK on 29th August, also asked Brits what makes for a better flying experience. With on-board comforts, such as legroom and seat (77 per cent), all inclusive flight prices with no additional costs on board (64%), quality of inflight food (55%) and inflight entertainment (49 per cent) are amongst the most important factors. 

About The Singapore Airlines Customer Service Report:

The survey was carried out in conjunction with YouGov in May 2015. A total of over 2000 adults from across the UK were polled, alongside over 500 UK businesses. The UK business sample was made up of senior decision makers and above from businesses across, small (<49), medium (50-249) and large sizes (>250 employees), with small trader responses capped at 20%.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total business sample size was 572 senior decision makers and above in businesses of any size. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 15th May 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Total consumer sample size was 2,060 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 12th May 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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