UK Customer Service Lags Behind Global Markets

UK struggles to keep up with multi-channel expectations

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Published: February 18, 2019

Rebekah Carter

Leading communications company, Avaya and Davies Hickman Partners recently released their latest research into Consumer Demand and Customer Experience. The study found that the UK is severely lagging behind other international markets like UAE, Singapore, and Germany for CX. Today’s large organisations just aren’t meeting the needs of their clients.

According to 73% of UK consumers from the Avaya study, it’s frustrating how difficult it can be to switch from one means of communication to another when speaking to an organisation. Often, changing devices means having to start the conversation over again with a new agent. The inefficiency of customer service has led to an increase in dissatisfaction by 11%.

UK Customers Demand a Better Experience

Currently, 80% of UK consumers feel that businesses in the UK should be working to make customer contact easier. The reports by Avaya and Davies Hickman Partners has been tracking consumer perceptions of large companies since 2010. The latest research includes insights from 8,000 customers across the UK, UAE, South Africa, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Germany, France, and Australia.

Interestingly, the study found that in the quest for better experience, most consumers are happy to turn to new technology. 75% of UK customers said that they wanted an immediate response from customer service. This demand is matched by a growing global acceptance of AI services. However, while many companies are now embracing virtual assistants and AI, there are notable differences in the way that UK customers feel about modern CX channels.

The UK, AI and Chatbot Service

Most UK consumers feel comfortable using chatbots for service. 51% said that they prefer their questions to be answered by a chatbot when they’re using an app or shopping. Around 31% also said that they would prefer a (working) bot to dealing with a human customer service agent.

Around 60% of UK customers from the Avaya study also said they like the idea of smart speakers being used to speed up customer service calls. However, only 27% of respondents would want to use their intelligent hub devices for service. This is a tiny percentage compared to the global acceptance rate of around 50%. In other words, it seems that the UK might be more reluctant to adopt certain kinds of smart technology.

There’s also a hesitancy present in UK customers’ willingness to use video chat for service purposes. Around 48% of consumers said they’d like to see a contact centre agent during a call when discussing complex issues. However, this response still trails behind most markets, where the average percentage of those in favour of video calls is 62%.

Where is Customer Service Heading in the UK?

There are many reasons why UK customers feel nervous about adopting video and smart speaker assistants in their customer service conversations. Many UK clients seem to feel worried about the security and privacy implications of using certain services. The UK is very wary when it comes to our privacy and data. Additionally, we’re often concerned about our appearance too. Around half of UK, consumers said they wouldn’t be willing to use video unless they had already brushed their hair.

Co-Founder of Davies Hickman Partners, Marcus Hickman, noted that the research shows a large number of UK and German customers feeling more conservative about the latest technology. Even though 2 thirds of the UK like the idea of using voice biometrics for security, for instance, this still lags behind most global consumers. Ioan MacRae, the UK&I Managing Director for Avaya also commented on the latest report, saying that there’s a growing need for “SuperServe organisations.” MacRae acknowledged that UK customers clearly want companies to go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service. He believes that we may soon begin to see the rise of SuperService as a result.



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