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Covid blamed for record high customer complaints

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Last year saw the highest number of complaints to firms since records began as frustrations with poor customer service due to Covid-19 took hold.

According to the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), a record 13% of people have made a complaint to a company in the past year, the highest figure since the institute began its UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) in 2008.

Covid-19-related product availability and service reliability issues were behind most of the problems.

Six months ago, the last time the twice-yearly survey was carried out, the proportion of people who had made complaints stood at 11%.

The ICS also found that as customers grew more frustrated, more were willing to pay extra for better service with 34%, the highest number ever recorded by the index, saying they’d pay more.

The survey of 10,000 people looked at the effects of customer service on business performance. The latest results found 16% of customers had experienced problems with a brand’s service in the past six months.

Jo Causon, CEO at the Institute of Customer Service, said: “There is no easy remedy for rising prices and shortages of goods, so we must all become better at dealing with delays and disappointments.

“Although satisfaction with complaint handling and overall satisfaction has improved, we need to address wider service chain issues if we are to improve the nation’s performance and productivity.

“More customers than ever before are willing to pay a premium for quality service. This suggests there is an opportunity to invest in delivering the real value that customers expect and deserve.”

Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “The pandemic has revealed some of the best and worst of customer service. Which?’s research found that seven in 10 people felt more loyal to a retailer if it had been reliable and accommodating throughout the pandemic.

“With online shopping becoming the norm, consumers should be able to expect the same level of customer service when shopping online as when shopping in a store.

“Any retailers falling short – either online or in store – must up their game to make sure no one is left frustrated or out of pocket due to bad customer service.”