Research Reveals Customer Service Satisfaction is at an All-time Low as Retailers and Leisure Companies Prepare for Vital Pre-Christmas Sales Period

According to Research by CDC Software and Henley Business School into current customer service levels do not meet customer expectations

Burnham, Bucks, September 15, 2011 — As retailers enter the busiest shopping quarter of the year research, published jointly by Henley Business School and CDC Software, reveals that UK retailers, leisure and service providers are failing to meet customer service expectations and as a result are losing customers and repeat sales opportunities.

Over 200 people were interviewed in the course of the project. These included customers and customer service experts from all markets including retail, travel & leisure, banking, finance and automotive.

The summary research findings are as follows;

  • 75% of consumers believe customer service standards in the UK are at an all-time low 
  • 62% feel no loyalty to retailers or service providers as a result of feeling under-valued as a customer 
  • Over half have been driven to complain about a product or service in the last 12 months, most of these making a complaint for the first time 
  • 67% believe retailers, leisure providers and service providers are arrogant, make no effort to understand their customers and as a result fail to supply against customer demand 
  • As a direct result, 55% say this failure to tailor stock and services loses sales 
  • 80% of customers revealed that they would like immediate reassurance and evidence that a complaint will be taken seriously and a satisfactory conclusion achieved 
  • Over 50% of UK consumers think businesses should be fined for consistent poor service

However, it’s not all bad:

  • 69% of travellers and shoppers say self-service check-ins and checkouts improve the customer experience 
  • 50% of consumers are happy with the customer service information provided on websites 
  • Of the 80% of customers wanting to speak with a ‘human’, 60% are happy with the customer service received from a call centre and do not ask for face-to-face interaction

Research conclusion

The project: “The Future of CRM – a Market Study by CDC Software in association with Henley Business School”, combined the research with an expert panel debate which can be viewed at

The overall project was managed by customer complaint and feedback management solution provider, CDC Software and overseen and analysed by Professor Moira Clark, director of CRM at Henley Business School.

In conclusion, the research found that Britain’s consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with standards of customer service across the retail, leisure and service sectors. The on-going economic constraints facing consumers were found to be contributory in the rise of customer service complaints, but not the cause. People are simply demanding better all-round quality. Where at one time a faulty item might have been thrown away, or an alternative meal, for example, ordered if the quality was not good, customers will no longer effectively pay twice and are now demanding, not just their money back, but compensation too!

With the number of complaints rising consistently, and awareness of this being spread in the media and via social media channels, over 50% of consumers believe businesses that consistently provide poor service should be penalised. The key reasons cited were: “there’s no excuse for poor service”; “customers should get what they are paying for”; “by listening to customers businesses should know what’s acceptable and what isn’t” and, “if more than one customer makes the same complaint the root cause should be established and changes made”.

However, the introduction of self-service supermarket checkouts and airport and train station check-ins has improved the customer experience for nearly 70% of people. The research found that 92% of customers like to interface with humans on their own terms and 79% found it intrusive to be approached, making self-service the ideal customer solution!

When it comes to making a complaint, 80% of customers want to deal with a person and not a machine, whether in person or via a call centre. 60% of people are more than happy with the response they receive from a call centre, although the remaining 40% said they “feel anonymous” when calling a call centre and fear being passed from department to department. They also dread being asked to repeat their details and complaint over and over again.

The research also found that customer loyalty has become a thing of the past for all but 17% of consumers. Competition from online sources, independent customer reviews and more public complaints channels mean people use and trust independent reviews and user comments on social media channels when making a purchasing decision more than they do advertising.

It was also established that customer complaints now play a greater role in the purchasing process; poor customer service can be broadcast globally with a single Facebook status update and therefore the research revealed that it is vital for retailers, travel companies and service providers to have a strong social media element in their overall customer service strategies.

About the research project

The objective of the project, entitled “The Future of CRM – a Market Study by CDC Software in association with Henley Business School”, looked at common customer service practices in the UK and the public’s reaction to these. 

The findings of the research were presented to a panel of industry customer service practitioners, each involved in face-to-face customer service practice or policy setting.

The panel comprised of Professor Moira Clark, director of The Henley Centre for Customer Management, Henley Business School and Jo Coulson, chief executive of the Institute of Customer service representing the CRM industry.

Representing the retail sector were Mathew James, customer care manager at Argos FS and Michael Wallis, customer services manager at the Page & Moy Travel Group and from the wider industry, CRM experts Martin Baker, managing director of MicroFocus, Annich McIntosh, editor of Loyalty Magazine and Jonathan Pyefinch of CDC Software.

Further information and expert interviews

To speak to any of the experts involved in the research and roundtable, or for more information on CDC Software please contact:

Strategic PR
Caroline Howlett or Sophie Bailey
01494 434434 

About CDC Software

CDC Software, The Customer-Driven Company™, is a hybrid enterprise software provider of on-premise and cloud deployments.  Leveraging a service-oriented architecture (SOA), CDC Software offers multiple delivery options for their solutions including on-premise, hosted, cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) or blended-hybrid deployment offerings. CDC Software’s solutions include enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing operations management, enterprise manufacturing intelligence, supply chain management (demand management, order management and warehouse and transportation management), global trade management, e-Commerce, human capital management, customer relationship management (CRM), complaint management and aged care solutions. 


CDC Software’s recent acquisitions are part of its “acquire, integrate, innovate and grow” strategy.  Fuelling the success of this strategy is the company’s global scalable business and technology infrastructure featuring multiple complementary applications and services, domain expertise in vertical markets, cost effective product engineering centres in India and China, a highly collaborative and fast product development process utilizing Agile methodologies, and a worldwide network of direct sales and channel operations. This strategy has helped CDC Software deliver innovative and industry-specific solutions to 10,000 customers worldwide within the manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, government, real estate, financial services, health care, and not-for-profit industries. For more information, please visit



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