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Young retail workers dragging down customer service: Study

Friday, 7 October 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
A new report reveals more than half the population believe Australia’s customer service levels have declined in the past five years, with young retail workers identified as the main culprits.

 

The study, conducted by research consultancy AMR and customer feedback platform Feedback ASAP, is based on a survey of 521 Australian consumers.

 

The study was conducted for the International Customer Service Professionals, which aims to enhance the importance of customer service through various networks.

 

According to the study, 58.5% of respondents believe customer service has declined in the last five years, while only 17.4% say it has improved.

 

Complaints from consumers predominantly focused on poor staff attitudes, problems with overseas call centres, and a lack of professionalism and product knowledge.

 

“The research showed that poor staff attitudes are a standout factor in consumer dissatisfaction,” AMR Melbourne general manager Mary Forgie says.

 

“In particular, people found attitudes from young workers in retail particularly wanting.”

 

Forgie says while there are no specific figures to highlight this, the negative comments made by respondents could be the result of an intergenerational gap between the young and old.

 

She says the older generations often view younger workers as bad mannered, unhelpful, insufficiently trained and lacking in emotional maturity.

 

“A lack of respect and a lack of training – these are recurring themes,” she says.

 

Phil Prosser, chief executive of Feedback ASAP, says businesses need to rethink their customer service delivery in order to capture the loyalty of an increasingly dissatisfied market.

 

“Now more than ever, businesses need to retain every customer by supporting their frontline teams and making service a priority,” he says.

 

“The reality is that the cost of getting your service wrong is the biggest handicap to growth.”

 

“What’s more, with consumers now using social media as a tool to vent customer service dissatisfaction, business can no longer afford to ignore this increasingly serious issue.”

 

It’s not all doom and gloom – Forgie says 17.4% of respondents who believe customer service has improved in the last five years, the outlook is positive.

 

“The Australians that have seen an improvement in service levels in recent years believe the current economic environment is creating increased competition among businesses, encouraging better service training skills among staff and an improved awareness of the importance of customer service,” she says.

 

“These responses highlight the fact that there are a number of businesses who do take customers seriously, and their customers notice the difference.”