UK Public Suffering in Silence

The UK has become a nation of ‘silent sufferers’, receiving poor service from the companies they depend on – including banks, phone, energy and insurance companies – but have given up complaining because they no longer believe their voices will be heard. The study comes from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), and was commissioned by the world’s first values comparison platform and consumer champion, B.heard, which is calling on consumers to let their service providers know what they really need.

A staggering 69% of people are unhappy with the time it takes to deal with customer service departments.

Despite this, almost four in 10 (39%) say they have been in a situation in which they felt they should make a complaint, but then decided not to go through with it.

The reason for this despondency is likely the lacklustre response people have received in the past after making a complaint to their bank, energy or phone company, with some 50% of people who considered complaining, but then didn’t, put off because they thought their voice wouldn’t make any difference.

The report also uncovers evidence that companies don’t make the process of sharing feedback simple, with 45% of people who considered complaining, and then deciding not to, believing it would have been too much effort. Meanwhile, some 50% of people stick with their energy, phone, insurance or financial services provider because they believe changing would be too much hassle. The research also indicates that people would be nervous about changing to new providers because they lack insight into which companies are reputable, with more than half (58%) of people agreeing they are “not sure which companies to trust anymore”. B.heard is committed to changing this passive sentiment by empowering them to make fully informed decisions based on a blend of genuine consumer feedback and extensive regulatory data as part of its value comparison process. This gives consumers the full picture when it matters most.

The Cebr study reveals that consumer resentment of poor service has led to some 66% of people believing “the cheapest company doesn’t always offer the best value.”

Dealing with poor customer service was shown to waste 45 million hours a year across the UK, with people spending more than half an hour on average each time they speak to customer service departments.

The research also shows that if people didn’t have to deal with poor service, the majority (56%) would use their additional free time to see their family – by far the most popular use of additional time – ahead of visiting friends (31%).

In the context of spending time with family, dealing with customer service departments is reckoned by consumers to be so time-consuming that it can make the difference between a working parent seeing their children before bed, or not.

The research also indicates that as far as businesses are concerned, there is a huge opportunity to improve service by listening to consumers. Were the UK’s banks, insurers, phone and energy companies to truly meet consumer needs by offering exceptional service, they would be able to unlock £2.4bn in additional revenue.

Colm Sheehy, managing economist at Cebr, said: “This research shows consumers are crying out for a better service but feel helpless when it comes to making their voices heard. It’s clear that many UK consumers are desperate for a service revolution – allowing them to hold energy companies, banks, insurers, and phone providers to account, and to derive value in ways that aren’t purely about price.

“When we consider how much time might be spent on the things we really value – such as seeing family – but is taken up dealing with poor service, it’s not a surprise that so many people now realise that the cheapest company won’t always offer the best value.”

The study was conducted by B.heard to gain greater insight into customer satisfaction with essential service providers, in order to understand how it could enable consumers to benefit from genuine value.

Oscar Vickerman, founder and CEO of B.heard said, “This research confirms that the UK is in need of a service revolution – people have given up on attempting to achieve better service and instead have resigned themselves to a lifetime of silent suffering.

“B.heard is leading this revolution by putting a stop to this by not only enabling people to quickly and easily gain insight into these companies through genuine customer feedback, but by giving The Great Unheard the opportunity for their voices to truly B.Heard.

“We’re calling on you to have your say so that together, we can shape exactly the type of services we want and need, at the same time as helping the companies that provide them, change for the better.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine