Consumers cautious about long-term impact of Olympics on customer service

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Despite a strong performance by service providers during the Olympic Games, many UK consumers are unsure if customer service will improve as a result, according to a new study by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

The research, among 2,000 consumers, reveals UK customers feel service improved or remained the same in the transport, retail and tourism industries during the Games.
 
Yet, customers are cautious about the long-term impact of London 2012 on UK service standards.
 
On track
 
According to the research, almost three quarters (74%) of respondents in the areas most affected by the Olympics, namely London and the South East, believe service providers delivered an excellent experience to visitors.
 
Almost two thirds (62%) of consumers across the rest of the UK share this sentiment.
 
When asked specifically about their customer service experiences of transport companies during the Games, more than half (52%) of respondents in London and the South East said they believe service was better than at any other time.
 
Only 4% of consumers in London and the South East, and 7% of respondents across the rest of the UK, feel service in transport was worse during the Olympics. 
 
Similarly, few consumers report any negative service experiences from retailers during the Games. 
 
In fact, almost two thirds of UK respondents (65%), suggest customer service in retail was of the same standard during the Olympics as at any other time. Only 7% of consumers across the UK feel retail service was worse during the event. 
 
Customers in the tourism sector are similarly positive. Almost half of UK consumers report service was the same (48%) or better (47%) than it had been prior to the Games. 
 
In the tourism industry, only 5% of respondents felt service was worse during the Olympics.
 
Crossing the finish line
 
Notwithstanding the many successes of London 2012, consumers are unconvinced about the long-term impact of the Games on customer service quality in the UK.
 
Almost half (49%) strongly believe the Olympics had a positive legacy for customer service in the UK. But less than a third of all consumers (31%) believe service will improve strongly as a result of the Olympics, while more than two thirds (69%) disagree or remain unconvinced. 
 
In London and the South East, only 36% strongly believe the Olympics will improve the quality of UK customer service in the long term. This falls to less than a third (29%) across the rest of the UK.
 
Jo Causon, CEO at the ICS, said: “Despite some scepticism in the lead up to the Games, the UK coped incredibly well with the service demands of the Olympics. This is a great reflection of what can be achieved when service providers increase focus on meeting customer expectations.
 
“The challenge now is to ensure the enthusiasm and outstanding service experienced during the summer continues long after the excitement of London 2012 has faded away.”