Customer service: who needs it anyway

A new report from Grass Roots makes some striking comments on service standards in the mobile phones business.
Part of a study that also included the Fast Food, Financial Services and Automotive sectors across six European countries,…
confirms that frontline staff are often not meeting their customers’ needs – and that as a consequence those unsatisfied customers are unlikely to return.
A total of 2,180 mystery shoppers were asked to make an enquiry and then assess the response they received.
Here are some of the findings.
On the Performance Index, a composite score of all the elements measured, the mobile sector managed 74.2%. Within that score Ireland was top of the class with 80.4%, ahead of Germany with 78%. The UK achieved 77%, Spain 73.7% and France 65.8%.
Ireland excelled principally because staff had the confidence to recommend a product and the skill to judge its suitability. Three out of four salespeople checked with the customer that their needs were being met.
The absolutely worst performance was in France where 40% of customers who visited a Mobile Phone shop did not intend to repeat the experience 46% of customers in France would not recommend the Mobile Phones outlet they visited.
David Evans, Chairman of Grass Roots, suggests that the figures indicate a quarter of retailers’ marketing spend may be wasted: “Advertising and promotional budgets create brand expectations and store traffic, at which point the responsibility for satisfying the customer passes to the individual. If one in four customers has been attracted to an experience they do not wish to repeat, the money that persuaded them to come there was not well spent”.
And on a similar subject, research by Cranfield School of Management suggests that some companies in the telecoms sector just aren’t too great at handling consumer relationships.
The study rated the top 100 advertisers from a customer perspective. Simple questions were sent either through their website (with the response channel selected as telephone) or by phone (with the response channel selected as email). The research then assessed how effective they were at answering simple questions via the requested channel.
Companies were allowed 72 hours to respond to requests. Only 44% managed to respond within this period, and not always in the format required.
Within the Top 100 surveyed, telecom providers ranked as follows:
Orange _ 1
Vodafone _ 8
BT _ 25
T-Mobile _ 41
3 _ 65
O2 _ 65
The research was commissioned by Broadsystem, which happens to offer systems to handle customer communications through integrated multi-channel systems.