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BLOG: Brits still value human touch

Written by: Christopher Aldous
Many of us often hanker for a return to the ‘good old days’ and it seems no more so than when it comes to personal service.  Recent research by Charles Stanley has revealed that Britons pine for the golden days when people knew their local doctor, bank manager and postie.

The research has shown that seven in ten (70%) Britons feel that automated services are gradually eroding face-to-face support. Seeing the same GP was revealed to be the most missed traditional service with nearly seven in ten (68%) wanting this service reinstated.  Other top services the UK population want to see increased are more local post offices, an increase in local run shops such as butchers, grocers, bakers and having a local bank branch where you can speak to someone familiar about your finances.

Not surprisingly, Charles Stanley’s findings highlighted that most of us are happy to purchase books, groceries and toiletries without the interference of a shop assistant. However, it found advice is of paramount importance when people came to more costly decisions, such as buying a house or arranging their personal finances. The average home buyer will generally consult with two experts for advice and will run their decision past at least three friends or family members before committing.   It seems the most people will spend without needing guidance is £474 and after this, advice is welcomed.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for automated technology.  The growing popularity of automated checkouts and online shopping has been a relief for many people who would like to be left alone when spending their cash. The research revealed that (34%) of us would choose a self-service checkout over a manned till in a supermarket in order to avoid an awkward interaction with another person. How very British!

The survey revealed the five most annoying automated innovations in modern life as voted by UK consumers:

  1. Automated sales calls
  2. Targeted online advertising e.g. adverts based on your previous search history
  3. Email-only customer service centres
  4. Self-service check-outs
  5. Contactless card payment

The five best automated innovations in modern life as voted by consumers:

  1. Online banking
  2. Online grocery delivery
  3. Online flight check-in
  4. Contactless card payment
  5. Self-service petrol pumps

There is no doubt that the growth of online and automated services has helped reduce costs and speed up processes for time-pressed Britons. However, there is no substitute for a personal service that is tailored to the individual and this is increasingly important when making decisions involving large amounts of money, such as a home or a pension.

Christopher Aldous is head of distribution at Charles Stanley

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