Employee Engagement

Workers dealing with customer service issues during office hours cost their employers £28 billion* per year in lost productivity, new research reveals today.

The poll, released by The Institute of Customer Service, analysed the impact of UK employees having to take time out of their working days to resolve personal issues with customer service staff in the last year.

Customer service issues related to house purchases are the most time consuming, and therefore most expensive to organisations, costing an average of £2.5 billion a year. This is followed by resolving tax queries (£2.4 billion) and problems with transport providers (£2.3 billion). The average cost per employee is £1,194 per year.

In terms of instances of poor customer service, Brits are most likely to have to take time out of their day to deal with issues with their utilities provider, with over half (54%) having to make contact to resolve  a problem over the past three months. The next biggest culprits are deliveries (44%), house maintenance and repairs (42%) and car problems (42%).

The findings also suggest the impact on the UK economy stretches beyond this £28 billion figure, with employees admitting that the quality of their work has suffered because of poor customer service experiences. Over half (53%) of consumers state frustrations with customer service staff can impact their ability to focus at work even after the conversation is over.

In addition:

  • 43% say it has a negative impact on their productivity
  • Over a third (37%) feel it has actually led to them underperforming at their job
  • Over half (51%) believe their employer has felt negatively towards them for taking time out of their working day to deal with personal administration
  • The issue is also impacting on employee wellbeing, causing 58% to feel anxious, 51% to feel angry and 28% to feel physically unwell

In light of this, three in five (60%) of UK employees believe there should be processes in place to enable customer service issues to be resolved outside of standard working hours.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, says: “There will always be times when employees will have to take time out of their working day to deal with personal issues. However, the responsibility lies with UK organisations to ensure that, as much as possible, problems are prevented at source and customer service interactions are right first time – to protect both the productivity of their own staff, and those interacting with them.

“With so many negatively impacted by this issue, there is a clear call to action for the Boardroom to place real focus on upskilling customer service staff and implementing efficient processes.

“The combined impact on employee time, productivity and wellbeing is a real concern, translating into a tangible loss for employers – and for the UK economy. There is a clear onus on companies to improve their customer service skills to protect the productivity of the UK workforce.”

Top 10 most costly sectors* for UK employers are:

Sector Cost (£billion)
House purchase 2.58
Tax queries or issues 2.41
Transport providers 2.34
House maintenance and repairs 2.24
Faulty goods 2.22
Local council bills e.g. parking tickets, registering for the electoral roll 2.15
Insurance 2.11
Utilities 2.11
Deliveries 2.08
Car problems 2.03

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