New research reveals that UK businesses only have one chance to get it right when it comes to customer service: six out of ten UK consumers (62 percent) say that if they receive bad service once, they will never buy from that company again.
The survey also highlights that the main drivers of service are getting the basics right, rather than adding special extra touches and flourishes. When consumers were asked what 'good customer service' actually means to them, the two most popular responses were helpful and responsive employees (chosen by 84 percent) and quickly sorting out the problem if something goes wrong (75 percent).
These are also the two factors most likely to annoy customers if they aren't done right: 46 percent see rude and unfriendly staff as the most irritating thing about bad service, while a third (33 percent) say that a company that is slow to fix problems is the thing they dislike most.
The research was carried out among over 2,000 British adults by car hire company Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Enterprise has developed a strong customer service culture throughout its 55 years of operation, citing service as the most important aspect of business success and growth.
The company measures customer satisfaction down to each individual branch through a monthly telephone survey of over 20,000 customers. This metric enables Enterprise to put customer service at the heart of decision-making including, for example, only those employees with customer service scores at or above the company average being eligible for promotion.
Mike Nigro, UK managing director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, comments: "This research highlights the importance of high-quality, well-trained employees who deliver great service each and every time. It also shows that consumers are accepting when things don't quite go as expected, but it's how issues are handled that can define great service. This is perhaps even more vital in an era where social networks allow people to complain online in seconds.
"The British public are no longer tolerant of poor service and quite rightly will vote with their feet. Nowadays we have a 'one chance high street' - if you don't provide great service from the very beginning, you won't get a second opportunity."
The research highlights this growing intolerance: 37 percent of consumers say they always complain when they receive bad service. And to exacerbate the problem, over a third (34 percent) actually think the service from UK retailers has got worse over the past ten years.