Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Do we need to get more like the French?

Do we need to get more like the French?

Recent research shows Brits get exactly what we deserve with service in the UK. Respondents were asked a series of questions to establish if they had ever boycotted a store or brand because of consistently poor service and if not, what would motivate them to do so.

It seems we’re largely apathetic when it comes to taking action, preferring to content ourselves with droning on about it instead. Staggeringly, less than 1% of respondents would actually complain or boycott the business.

Certainly, customer service is discussed as compulsively as the British weather…… so perhaps this is the reason why few are prepared to take a stand? Like the weather, is it that regarding service we believe little can be done to change it?

The survey results would suggest so. With over 47% feeling ‘too embarrassed’ to complain the remainder showed a troubling degree of apathy with comments such as “I simply can’t be bothered to complain because it doesn’t make any difference” or “what’s the point? They never listen to me”. 75% felt reluctant to complain to frontline staff either because of indifference or because they believed the issue remains outside of the assistants’ control “so what’s the point in giving them grief when it starts at HO”.

Rather like global warming, the problem of poor service appears to be too large, too complex and beyond our capacity to correct. And like global warming, the impact of our apparent apathy will take years to become fatal - the eventual outcome will surely be complete service extinction?

This all feels a little counter-intuitive, as very few companies will become sufficiently motivated to care or feel inclined to improve their service position as long as the paying punter, well……. continues to pay!

It seems the bar is now set so low that even small moderations in consumers’ behaviour and attitudes would pay dividends. Surely with this new-found frugality and economic downturn the time has come to sacrifice some short-term inconvenience for the losses to become long-term gains in service? Or is it that we lack the verve to become a little embarrassed, take a stand and demand change like the French do??

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