Retail survey reveals ‘moments of truth’

Bored retail staff are wishing away time – and customers, according to a new study, which has revealed a ‘lack of engagement’ among high street shop workers.
The findings are based on a survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by the Institute of Customer Service in May. The Institute asked respondents to rate customer service staff on a range of factors from passion, enthusiasm and boredom levels, to knowledge, helpfulness, and a sense of pride.

High street retail and utilities staff fared worst, with enthusiasm rated at 6.3 (on a scale of one to 10) and passion for the job rated 6.2. Retail staff also seemed the most bored with a rating of 5.7 against utilities companies at 5.1.

At the opposite end of the scale, bank staff were rated highly, with customer services professionals rated the most friendly (7.8), helpful (7.7) and enthusiastic (7.1).

Meanwhile, one in four consumers would be willing to pay more – an average of 5% – for better service.

Institute of Customer Service chief executive Jo Causon said: “In this difficult economic environment, service is the critical differentiator for businesses. Companies need to train and motive staff to go the extra mile, while tailoring their service based on a firm understanding of what customers actually want.

“Even in these cost-conscious times, consumers still want the right balance between price and service. Those companies that can encourage staff to create a positive buying experience are more likely to retain customers and reap the financial rewards.”

The research also revealed the extent to which ‘moments of truth’ – particularly good or bad customer service experiences – stick in the mind of consumers, driving them to spend and recommend, or the opposite.

Almost a third of consumers had had a ‘memorable service experience’ in the last six months, but of these, only 57% were positive. Two-thirds of respondents who had a good experience recommended the company to someone else. But similarly, almost two-thirds that had a bad experience stopped doing business with the organisation. Three-quarters avoided the firm when they had a choice and 67% spread negative feedback via word of mouth.

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