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UK consumers more likely to complain when problems arise

09 January 2013 by
UK consumers more likely to complain when problems arise

UK consumers face fewer problems when buying goods and services than they did five years ago, but they are more likely to complain, a new report has found.

The percentage of consumers who encounter a problem has fallen from 17% in January 2008 to 11.7% in July 2012, according to research by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

But the proportion of those that went on to make a complaint rose from 72% to 76% in the same period.

However, the Handle with Care report warned that the overall falling trend in problems experienced is showing signs of reversing, creeping back from a low of 10.6% in July 2011.

Staff attitude and competence was named as the most common cause for gripes (62%), with the leisure and public service sectors the most likely to receive this type of complaint.

The quality and reliability of goods and services was found to be responsible for a third (34%) of consumers' grievances.

Jo Causon, ICS chief executive, commented: "Our research suggests that customers are most satisfied when complaints are dealt with immediately.

"As a result, organisations need to ensure that all customer contacts are handled consistently well, and that customers are not passed from pillar to post."

Despite a growing inclination among UK consumers to complain, the report warned of the large number of "silent sufferers" who have cause to complain but choose not to.

Causon said that the research revealed that customers who have had a bad experience are much more likely to tell others, and to tell more people, than those who have had a good experience.

"This means that it's essential to try to prevent complaints occurring and, when they do occur, they need to be dealt with as quickly as possible and followed up to make sure customers feel the issue has been resolved," she explained.

The report is based on the findings of more than 3,000 consumer responses from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the national measure of customer satisfaction.

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By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.

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