Customer Service: A European Perspective

We recently commented on the importance of staying in touch with your customers in one of our Thursday Night Insight slots.  With new research showing that, shockingly, the average European consumer spends more than two-and-a-half hours each week dealing with the customer service departments of various companies, it is important we get customer service right.

Factor in the current economic climate and the curb in consumer spending, and the recent study by DHL Express emphasises the importance of customer service and the impact it can have on the success of businesses.

Notable findings of this online survey of 6,500 adults across France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK, include:

  • 62% claim they would change provider if they received poor customer service.
  • Two-thirds of respondents dislike automated answering services.
  • The preferred method of communication in Britain and France (43%) is to speak to a representative face-to-face; in the other European countries most (40%) prefer speaking to a representative over the telephone.
  • Banks are rated the best customer service industry by 22% of total respondents from Poland, France and Sweden; Retail companies are ranked highest in Italy and Germany (19%); The hotel industry is chosen by 24% of British respondents; Hotels, restaurants and banks fare equally well among the French (14%).  Telecommunications, utilities, insurance, healthcare, express delivery and online industries we also rated.
  • 17% of Europeans have not had their problem resolved within a day, and have had to wait up to a week.  In one in eight cases, the issue does not get resolved at all. Polish people have most success, with 92% attaining a resolution to their problem.
  • 39% of Britons tip good customer service compared to just 4% of Italians.
  • France, Germany, Italy and Sweden all think that their own countries offer the best customer service in the world; Poles think that customer service in Germany is the best (19%); and 47% of those questioned in Great Britain think that the best customer service is to be found in the United States.
  • The top three dislikes of British people about customer service are waiting times (83%), language barriers (80%) and lack of knowledge (74%). 86% also say that poor customer service affects their decision to make future purchases from a company, and 95% say it affects their perception of the business as a whole.
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