A new survey has found that UK businesses are losing out on valuable customers due to bad customer service. Nine out of ten (92 per cent of) UK consumers stated that they’ve not done business with a company again following a bad customer service experience.

The survey of over 1000 respondents by Internet Service Provider Eclipse Internet, also found that 73% of Britons have experienced bad customer service five times or more in the last year.
A further 32% of those had had a bad experience ten times or more. Of those questioned, 16% branded customer service in Britain as simply awful.

Interestingly, 58 per cent of those questioned believed that online shopping has enhanced customer service but that there was still room for improvement. Almost nine in ten (89 per cent) cited this could get better with almost half (46 per cent) saying they need more phone support when buying online and over a quarter (27 per cent) calling for after sales service to be improved.

Clodagh Murphy, director at Eclipse, commented on the findings: “It’s clear that UK consumers are becoming more and more demanding. Large shopping centres and the internet has meant customers have more choice than ever before so are willing to shop around. If they have a bad experience, they simply won’t go back.”

“Companies should be continuously looking into ways they can improve customer service. More and more companies, including ourselves, are using new ways to do this, like monitoring social networking sites allowing us to respond in almost real-time or pro-actively telling customers about any issues or problems. Businesses today need to realise that customers come first and losing any through bad serving can be detrimental.”

Pontus Kristiansson, CEO and co-founder of Avail Intelligence, also commented: “While online sales for Christmas are predicted to increase by almost a third on last year, competition is also increasing with more US retailers, such as BestBuy and Anthropologie, launching e-commerce outlets in the UK.

“As this research shows, retailers need to be offering a more personalised shopping experience and first class customer service online in order to ward off competition. Consumers are more fickle than they have ever been, and they now expect a great deal more than express delivery and gift-wrapping when buying online. Providing personalised guidance, whether through peer recommendations or one to one support from the customer service team, is essential to a positive online shopping experience. Using customer intelligence to improve these services not only exceeds consumers’ expectations but also builds a reputation of trust.”

Eclipse also asked consumers for the worst customer experience they’ve ever had from UK businesses and released the five most common found:

1. A sales assistant spent the entire time on the phone, was unwilling to help me although I showed great interest in the product, and chewed gum just to top it all off

2. Repeated LONG delays while waiting on hold, or assuring you an action has been done which you later find out was a lie

3. Frequently being sent the wrong/incorrect bills by a company

4. Having to wait months for a company to repair a product, which I had insured and was still paying for when I didn’t have it. Whenever I rang up it took up to an hour just to speak to someone

5. Complete and utter failure on the company's part, refusal by the company to do anything about the failure, and final letter of correspondence pretty much telling me to live with it or go elsewhere