Substandard service costs employers £28 billion a year in lost productivity

10th Oct 2017

Brits dealing with customer service issues during office hours cost their employers £28 billion* per year in lost productivity, new research has revealed. 

The poll, released by The Institute of Customer Service ahead of National Customer Service Week, analysed the impact of UK employees having to take time out of their working days to resolve personal issues with customer service staff in the last year. 

Customer service issues related to house purchases are the most time consuming, and therefore most expensive to organisations, costing an average of £2.5 billion a year. This is followed by resolving tax queries (£2.4 billion) and problems with transport providers (£2.3 billion). The average cost per employee is £1,194 per year. 

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “There will always be times when employees will have to take time out of their working day to deal with personal issues. However, the responsibility lies with UK organisations to ensure that, as much as possible, problems are prevented at source and customer service interactions are right first time – to protect both the productivity of their own staff, and those interacting with them.”

In terms of instances of poor customer service, Brits are most likely to have to take time out of their day to deal with issues with their utilities provider, with over half (54%) having to make contact to resolve  a problem over the past three months. The next biggest culprits are deliveries (44%), house maintenance and repairs (42%) and car problems (42%). 

The findings also suggest the impact on the UK economy stretches beyond this £28 billion figure, with employees admitting that the quality of their work has suffered because of poor customer service experiences. Over half (53%) of consumers state that frustrations with customer service staff can have an impact on their ability to focus at work even after the conversation is over. 

“With so many negatively impacted by this issue, there is a clear call to action for the Boardroom to place real focus on upskilling customer service staff and implementing efficient processes,” added Causon.

“The combined impact on employee time, productivity and wellbeing is a real concern, translating into a tangible loss for employers – and for the UK economy. There is a clear onus on companies to improve their customer service skills to protect the productivity of the UK workforce.”

* TLF polled 1,800 UK employees in September 2017. Individual figures based on average times spent dealing with customer service issues per salary band. £28 billion figure based on total across 13 sectors.


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