UK most unforgiving country when it comes to customer service

More than a third of people (38%) in the UK felt that their experience with customer service has got worse over the last 12 months, making it the highest figure out of the US and Europe. This is according to the Customer Service Index 2021, produced by Five9, provider of cloud contact centre software.

The report also found that nearly half of UK respondents (44%) are very unlikely to be willing to do business after poor customer experience – making us the least forgiving country. And almost two-fifths (39%) of UK consumers have left a brand they were previously loyal to over the last 12 months, with the biggest losers being retail and consumer products (28%) followed by banking and financial services (15%).

Five9’s Customer Service Index looks at what consumers believe makes good or bad customer service. Other interesting points from the research include: 

  • Phone is still king: More than half (51%) of total consumers (US and Europe) still prefer the phone as the best means of communicating with customer services. Yet compared with other countries, the UK is most likely to use webchat (20%)
  • When asked the preferred channel for urgent/sensitive issues, the number for by phone increased to 65%. Note that for the UK respondents, that number increased to 68%
  • Over a quarter (26%) of UK consumers are more willing to use social media platforms for customer service than they were a year ago 
  • Virtual agents: Two-fifths (40%) of UK consumers are already using virtual agents where available. Nearly a fifth (18%) haven’t yet used them but would if they were available, showing a huge opportunity for contact centres to capitalise on virtual agents 
  • The UK is still not ready for video: Over two-fifths (42%) of consumers would prefer not to use a video call with a customer service agent. Whereas in Spain, less than a third (29%) aren’t comfortable

Brian Atkinson, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA from Five9 said: “Our Customer Service Index suggests some correlation between customer service and brand loyalty. Most businesses have faced unprecedented uncertainty over the last 12 months and simply cannot afford to lose customers. It’s therefore essential to get customer service right – especially for UK consumers. To do this it is ultimately about human connection, which is the underlying theme across the survey results. The phone is still popular because consumers want to feel like they are talking to a real person, and are being understood and listened to. Yet, they still expect the same across chatbots and social media. Human connection needs to therefore be at the heart of every communication – even if an actual person isn’t present.”

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