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Poor staff attitude and competence most common causes for customer complaints

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UK consumers face fewer problems when purchasing products and services than they did five years ago, but are more inclined to complain when things go wrong according to a report by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

The report, published today, reveals the UK has a growing complaints culture, with consumers more likely to complain about people-related issues such as staff attitude and competence.

The report, Handle with care, based on the findings of more than 3,000 consumer responses from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, (UKCSI), revealed the percentage of customers who experience a problem has decreased from 17% in January 2008 to 11.7% in July 2012, while the proportion of those that went on to make a complaint rose from 72% to 76% in the same period.

It showed that issues, such as staff behaviour cause the majority of customer complaints and warns there still remains a significant proportion of 'silent sufferers' that leave organisations with little opportunity to resolve issues.

People-related issues such as staff attitude and competence cause the majority (62%) of problems eliciting a complaint, the report found. It also revealed in comparison, the quality of reliability of goods and services accounts for just a third (34%) of complaints.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the ICS, said: "The research suggests that customers are most satisfied when complaints are dealt with immediately. As a result, organisations need to ensure that all customer contacts are handled consistently well, and that customers are not passed from pillar to post.

"The type of complaint and satisfaction with complaint handling varies significantly by sector. It's particularly important for organisations in sectors where there tends to be a high proportion of complaints about staff competence or staff attitude to benchmark their complaint handling performance and support employees in anticipating and dealing with complaints," Causon added.