Let me start by saying that I am a Brit who has spent the vast majority of my life living in Canada. I have traveled extensively to more than 28 countries and have experienced every imaginable level of customer service. I accept that there are cultural differences but I am often shocked at the incredible poor service I have consistently received in the UK!
Honestly, I have received some great service in the UK but the vast majority is simply laughable! The worst is Tesco but honestly none of the large retailers are much better. HSBC is horrible, Boots is dismal and WH Smith is a joke!
I could list a wide range of examples but I will relate yesterday’s example of a near Liverpool Street Station. I have attended several Networking breakfast meetings at the pub over six weeks. The breakfast served was shocking – truly the worst meal I have ever been served. The network group pays £8.50 per breakfast. I complained but each week it was the same horrible breakfast! Great English Breakfasts can be found everywhere for about £4. When I complained the management’s response was that the pub was doing us a favour by letting have our meeting there and the food was excellent! Really? I don’t think so and I am your customer! But, you don’t care!
Shocked by the response from pub management I contacted the Brewery directly and asked if they had a customer relations department. The telephone operator told me that they did but that she would not connect me or provide me with a direct email address – I could send my email to the general mail box and it would be directed! The customer service people are hiding from the customers? This shows a culture that is not interested in customers – shame on you!
In other words “we are not interested in our customers!”
Well, this pub will never get a penny of my money again!
The problem for British business is this is common. British business works very hard to drive away customers everyday! When the economy is faltering why do business give such little concern to how they treat customers? I am not sure what it is in the British personality that delivers and accepts such poor service but with the cost of attracting new clients this behaviour makes no sense!
The biggest risk for business is that when poor service is so predominate across all business sectors it is very easy to stand apart and dominate by simply providing great service. A competitor could steal your business overnight simply by providing better service! Would you want that to happen?
Invest in your front line employees, train them to recognize when a customer is not happy and empower them to solve problems. Write into your business plan and company mission that your customers are the centre of your business. Care about your customers and they will care for you and your bottom line will benefit!
Wake up British Business your customers are not happy!