News release

Date: 5th October 2009

Customer service is king in the lead up to Christmas

Yet high street retailers and supermarkets are faring badly, new survey reveals

Milton Keynes, UK; 5 October 2009 – 7 out of 10 people are prepared to pay more for a product or service if it means receiving better customer service, according to the 2009 National Customer Satisfaction survey from Retail Eyes, specialists in improving customer experience in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.

The survey, undertaken to coincide with National Customer Service Week (5 – 11 October) and based on the results of 6,523 UK consumers, found that over half (56%) of respondents will leave an establishment before making an intended purchase if they get poor service.

“With the high street facing a flat Christmas and spending anticipated to be a third less than last year, retailers really need to be on top of their game.” said Tim Ogle, CEO of Retail Eyes. “Our survey shows that if retailers want to make money this season, they will have to get their customer service right. The ones who do, can increase average spend per visit. The challenge is to make sure that standards don’t slip when temporary, seasonal staff come on board.”
According to the survey, the hotel trade is getting it right while restaurants, high street retailers, pubs and bars are slipping behind.

When asked which sector delivers the best customer service, a tiny 6% of respondents rated high street retailers, compared to a healthy 52% for the hotel industry at the top. Restaurants were second with 23% of the vote. Supermarkets received only 11% of people claiming to get good service.

“The little things make all the difference,” advises Tim. “Disinterested or unhelpful staff really pushes people’s buttons. It’s deeply irritating if you see staff talking when you’re waiting to be served. Pride also matters – customers don’t like staff who look scruffy or untidy."

Nearly half (46%) of respondents said that staff who listen and understand what they are looking for, are friendly and make them feel valued, are the most important things to enhance their shopping experience. The same number of shoppers said that the most frustrating thing is staff who show a lack of interest in serving or those that have a poor attitude towards them.

The key is getting the right balance. An overwhelming majority (88%) of customers said they prefer to be approached by an assistant when they need help rather than be pounced on when they walk through the door. Staff should acknowledge customers to show an interest and availability when the time is right to serve.

Despite the variations in levels of customer service per sector, the survey did show that ‘in store’ delivers better service (76%) against the internet (17%) and over the phone (7%).

“These results suggest that businesses may need to focus on their telephone standards and call handling abilities.” commented Tim.

“There is some good news. Retailers are investing more heavily in getting the information they need,” continued Tim. ‘Those who do, stand the best chance of weathering the recession storm.”


For media enquiries please contact;

Verity Blake (mailto:verityblake[at][dot]uk) or
Abbie Strudley (abbiestrudley[at][dot]uk)
on 01865 882 988.

About Retail Eyes
Launched in the UK in 2003, Retail Eyes is the leading provider of customer experience improvement programmes. The company offers bespoke solutions to improve the customer experience of its clients through a portfolio of high quality services that include mystery shopping, retail audits and online customer surveys. The company works with 85 of the UK’s leading retailers, brands and leisure & hospitality providers, undertaking around 200,000 mystery visits a year (16,500 per month) throughout the UK.
Retail Eyes’ clients include HMV, O2, William Hill, BAA, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), JD Sports Fashion plc, Pret a Manger, Lloyds pharmacy, Subway, Thomas Cook, JD Wetherspoon and !nBev.

Retail Eyes was ranked 27th in Marketing’s market research league table in 2009 and 57th in the 2009 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 fastest-growing technology companies. Retail Eyes combines world beating technology with an innovative approach to deliver customer service improvement programmes to clients across a variety of sectors.
For more information about Retail Eyes and its unique customer experience improvement programmes please visit

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