UK business' Basil Fawlty attitude is disappearing

Stereotypes, begone: a survey suggests customer service is becoming increasingly important to UK businesses. Nil points to the French, though...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 30 Mar 2012
Us Brits don’t exactly have an exemplary reputation as far as customer service is concerned, but a new study has suggested that UK businesses have caught on to the fact that keeping the customer happy is increasingly important. According to research by small business software firm Sage, 53% of firms reckon it’s become more crucial to the survival of their company over the past year, while 60% who have increased their revenues over the past six months think customer service is more important than ever. Is that Basil Fawlty reputation about to become a thing of the past?

The survey was of 10,000 businesses all over the world, but of those in the UK, 44% of businesses – 53% of small business – said the importance of customer service is on the increase. For those who said they’re not investing more in improving their customer service, 70% said it was because they had ‘met or exceeded’ customer expectations (they seem alarmingly confident…) and 14% said it’s not a priority. Hmm.

Interestingly, while 55% of US businesses, 53% of UK companies, and 53% of German firms reckon customer service is becoming increasingly important, only 32% of French business agreed. Apparently, the level of investment in customer service by UK small businesses is almost double their French counterparts. Sage suggests the French attitude is ‘laissez faire’, but we wouldn’t dare comment…

Nevertheless, in these straitened times, that little bit of added value – whether it’s shop staff who know their stuff or someone at the other end of the phone who is prepared to go the extra mile – just might give you the edge over your competitors. As Gary Young, the head of customer operations at Sage UK points out, ‘consumers know it’s a buyer’s market and they, quite rightly, want more than just a product when they make a purchase’. Bon chance…

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