Sickness and absence is a major problem affecting service delivery and the customer experience in the UK, according to a recent survey of 200 service-oriented organisations by workforce management specialist Cognito. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey questioned business managers who are responsible for mobile workers to find out which are the key problems faced in delivering service excellence. Sickness ranked as the most common problem (39%), followed by traffic congestion (37%) and unavailability of staff (36%).

The retail, distribution and transport sectors (41%) were more severely affected by sickness than any other sector.

Some 9% of organisations reported having no visibility into their customer service delivery performance, and 37% cited customer interaction and satisfaction as areas in which they would like more visibility.

"The survey shows that visibility into customer interaction and satisfaction is something organisations need and want more of," said Jonathan Chevallier, strategic development director for Cognito. "Focusing on visibility and employee engagement should help decrease absenteeism and pre-empt service shortfalls."

One in four organisations (24%) reported that absenteeism has a significant impact on their operations, regardless of the size of the organisation.

But, when asked what their top service challenge was, the most common responses were listed as absenteeism, punctuality, staff training, staff motivation, and speed of response. Other challenges cited included customer satisfaction, managing customer expectations, and meeting targets.