Are your customers revolting? No, it's probably not what you think. Recent research by the British Standards Institution (BSI) found that customer service in the UK is improving, but that one third of British consumers are still not happy and, as a result, are likely to revolt - or at least find alternative brands - when their chosen favourites displease them. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

British consumers are reporting improved levels of customer service since the start of the financial crisis (now 22.9%, up from only 9.1% in 2008) and the number of people who think it is getting worse has more than halved (from 64% in 2008 to 29.1% in 2014).

But, despite the positive shift, the survey found that there is still much more to do, as almost 1 in 3 respondents (29.1%) said they think customer service is getting worse and are choosing to switch provider. The top reasons most commonly cited for switching include:

  1. Uncompetitive price of service/product (42.5%);
  2. Poor service/product quality (40.6%);
  3. Bad attitude of employees (39.4%);
  4. Poor handling of complaints (33.1%).

Changing attitudes have had the most impact in the energy sector, with consumers reporting they are nearly twice as likely to switch energy providers (9.5%) compared with banks (5.3%). Internet providers and supermarkets also performed poorly, losing around 8% and 6% respectively.

The growing influence of social digital media channels (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) and the increasing use of online technologies (e.g. forums and blogs) by brands may have contributed to the improvement in customer service since 2007. The research found that 49.2% of Britons said that online review sites (such as TripAdvisor or Amazon) influence their opinion when buying or choosing products or services, and almost 1 in 5 respondents had complained or commented about poor service using social media.

"Good customer service is a critical and essential element in customer retention. Although this research shows that customer service has improved greatly, businesses still have a long way to go in bolstering the loyalty of their customers," concluded Dan Palmer, BSI's head of market development for services. "Businesses now need to work harder and smarter to stand out from the competition and to meet customer expectations."