£45.38 billion missed by UK retailers

Customers who experience positive staff interaction and assistance will spend on average 39 per cent more than those who are not helped or greeted, according to new research released today by customer insight agency SMG.

The research, which surveyed over 100,000 genuine UK retail and leisure customers in 2011, found that the average spend jumps from £23.36 per person by those who do not receive assistance, to £32.47 for those that are helped by staff. Research also found that British retailers are missing out on as much as £45.38 billion each year in sales. Retailers that master customer service are likely to attract a bigger portion of the “floating pound” in sales over poorer performing competitors.

UK satisfaction on the High Street – going to extremes

Based on the responses 100,000 plus UK customers, SMG has created the Customer Satisfaction Index to measure customer experience in terms of friendliness of staff, availability of assistance and problem resolution to identify its impact on sales and absolute loyalty.

The SMG Customer Satisfaction Index in the UK has a score of 6.1 (out of a possible 10.). The worst place in the UK for customer service is Worcestershire, Dorset, Berkshire whilst the best places are Herefordshire, Northumberland, East Yorkshire.

“The Olympics will see the UK take to the global stage, and presents our retailers with the ideal opportunity to showcase the best of British shopping”, comments Jeremy Michael, managing director, SMG. “Our research into a huge number of genuine UK customers has identified that the quality of customer service is a key driver to increasing sales and building loyalty.

“With over 30 million visitors expected this year, it is vital that stores invest in staff training to appropriately engage with customers to enhance customer experiences, and therefore improve sales.”

Dealing with complaints

According to the research, loyalty is best advanced by providing excellent customer service through problem resolution.

Respondents who were highly satisfied with problem resolution were 21 per cent more likely to return than those who were highly satisfied but didn’t experience a problem. 17 per cent were more likely to recommend, and 11 per cent were more satisfied with their experience overall.

“As the UK high street fights for survival amid the proliferation of e-commerce, store closures and a double–dip recession, this research provides food-for-thought for retailers to identify trends, improve customer service and, ultimately, sales” comments Michael.

Personal happiness – the middle muddle

The survey found that customers aged between 25 to 49 are the least satisfied with their overall customer experience. Under 18s were nearly a third more likely to state they have received exceptional service than customers aged 25 to 34.

This research mirrors the Personal Happiness Index “u-bend” effect, which is used by governments to plan policy in relation to contentment levels in the nation.

Jeremy Michael concludes: “Retailers need to consider the varying satisfaction levels across varying customer demographics. In particular, UK retailers should educate staff about the misperceptions in relation to young and older customers and ensure all customers are receiving excellent customer service.”

Satisfaction – the problem with sex

Women customers are eight per cent more likely to recommend than men, as well as more likely to return and report a better experience than men in the UK. Furthermore, men are more likely experience a problem than women, yet are more satisfied with how these problems are resolved.

Best time to shop – Thursday 11 o’clock

The research also looked at the best times and days to shop, identifying Thursday as the day when customer overall satisfaction is at the highest. Meanwhile, customers are most likely to be greeted and receive assistance before 11am.