One in four retail businesses delivers poor customer service over the phone, alldayPA research finds

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The quality of customer service in the UK is being undermined by an over-reliance on websites and emails according to new research by alldayPA.

The survey, which questioned 1,000 members of the public, found that many businesses – including retail businesses (e.g. high street shops, online retailers) – are losing the art of conversation, offering poor service to customers over the phone.

While we are happy to use online shopping when it suits our needs, most of us (70%) want to be able to speak to someone directly when it comes to making a complaint or trying to resolve a problem.

We also prefer to use the phone when it comes to getting detailed information about a product before making a purchase (53%) or aftersales support such as arranging a delivery date (59%).

However, many organisations are failing to provide the service we want. 1 in 4 (25%) of consumers felt retail businesses, such as high street shops and online etailers, delivered poor customer service over the phone.

Local Authorities came bottom in the study with 47% of the public saying that they offered poor telephone service in these situations, followed by trade businesses (32%) and financial services (29%).

The biggest bugbears were unhelpful or impolite call handlers, overuse of voicemail and automated call menus and when phones aren’t answered within a reasonable time.

With customer service scores in the UK reaching a five-year low, it seems that there is an urgent need for organisations to relearn the art of conversation with their customers.

David Joseph, board executive at alldayPA, said: “Our research indicates a worrying trend for businesses who keep their customers at arms length.  Whilst we love the convenience and speed of online shopping and email, there are specific moments when we want to speak to a human being.

“Failure to offer this service will quite simply mean that you lose customers.  68% of people said that having call handlers that are impolite or unhelpful would be enough to make them move their custom elsewhere.

“This may be why frustrations with Local Authorities are so high, as we have no choice in who we can use for these public services.”