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Why does UK business accept poor customer service as the norm?

Why does UK business accept poor customer service as the norm?

Even the word “customer service” has become a standard mantra for every company on the internet. I can’t remember where I first heard it – but I am pretty sure it was not around 20 years ago. When was the last time you heard a company advertise themselves as giving an average or mediocre service? It must be the easiest idiom to offer, but the hardest to deliver.

Only this morning I called a company (for the second time) whose services we need for some designs I want looked at. Having been greeted very politely on the phone, I was asked if a message could be left … again. Having remarked that a second message was probably not necessary as it would be a repeat of the first, the lady said “okay – bye” and put the phone down.

Frustrating though this is – we are in the same boat as everyone else. How often does a business change a service provider due to a poor relationship? I am the first to moan about my mobile phone provider not having a strong enough signal or our stationery supplier delivering two weeks later than promised. But, like every other company, we deem it too much trouble to change over to someone else.

There can only really be two real reasons for this :-

1. Our acceptance this is just the way things are and we can’t make the change as it would be a lot of effort. The nationally acclaimed (by us) British reserve comes into play and we don’t want to make a fuss.

2. The service you are looking to receive is not important enough to warrant a switch.

So how much does all of this cost UK business? In wasted time and revenue, it must be billions of pounds. I know, as a company, we must spend countless hours waiting on the phone for someone at HMRC to speak to us. Sometimes we only want to ask a quick question about a clients tax situation – but it takes forever. And how many times have you heard the phrase “Your call is important to us”? If it was important to them – there wouldn’t be a message, as I would already be speaking to their customer service department.

This is not just about wasted money and time. Fundamentally – this is about the paradox of expectation. We expect the service to be what we pay for – we really want to receive the service we pay for and not feel robbed. As a global business centre – the UK could learn a lot from our American and European peers. We have a great work ethic and a culture that encourages people to run a business for themselves. No other country in the world allows you to start up on your own as easily as the UK.

I just think it’s about time UK business signed up to Father Christmas rather than Dick Turpin.

About the author: Matthew Durrant

Matthew has been an accountant in practice since 1989 and has established a strong reputation in the contractor marketplace. He acts as accountant for a diverse blend of clients from sole traders to medium-size limited companies. An acknowledged IR35 specialist, Matthew’s services are much sought across the UK.

Matthew Durrant. Partner, Forbes Young Accountants

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited

Image: Telephone Robot by Jenn and Tony Bot

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