Seven out of 10 people are prepared to pay more for a product or service if it means receiving better customer service, according to the 2009 National Customer Satisfaction Survey.
It found that over half (56%) of respondents will leave an establishment before making an intended purchase if they get poor service.
“With the high street facing a flat Christmas and spending anticipated to be a third less than last year, retailers really need to be on top of their game.” said Tim Ogle, CEO of Retail Eyes, the company behind the study.
“Our survey shows that if retailers want to make money this season, they will have to get their customer service right. The ones who do, can increase average spend per visit.
He added, “The challenge is to make sure that standards don’t slip when temporary, seasonal staff come on board.”
According to the survey, the hotel trade is getting it right while restaurants, high street retailers, pubs and bars are slipping behind.
When asked which sector delivers the best customer service, a tiny 6% of respondents rated high street retailers, compared to a healthy 52% for the hotel industry at the top.
Restaurants were second with 23% of the vote. Supermarkets received only 11% of people claiming to get good service.
“The little things make all the difference. Disinterested or unhelpful staff really pushes people’s buttons,” added Ogle.
“It’s deeply irritating if you see staff talking when you’re waiting to be served. Pride also matters – customers don’t like staff who look scruffy or untidy. “
Nearly half (46%) of respondents said that staff who listen and understand what they are looking for, are friendly and make them feel valued, are the most important things to enhance their shopping experience.
The same number of shoppers said that the most frustrating thing is staff who show a lack of interest in serving or those that have a poor attitude towards them.
The key is getting the right balance. An overwhelming majority (88%) of customers said they prefer to be approached by an assistant when they need help rather than be pounced on when they walk through the door.
Staff should acknowledge customers to show an interest and availability when the time is right to serve.
The survey was undertaken to coincide with National Customer Service Week (5 – 11 October, 2009) and is based on the results of 6,523 UK consumers.
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