12 January 2018 | Deborah Shrewsbury
UK utilities companies risk losing business customers if they don't make it easier to get in touch when things go wrong.
Commercial consumers deem ease of contact at utilities companies to be far from satisfactory, which should worry a sector where high-quality service should be a core priority, says marketing consultant and business strategist Yonder Digital Group.
A study conducted by the consultant using a sample of 2,000 UK consumers across a number of sectors - including retail banks, hotels and supermarkets -proved particularly astonishing, it says, in today's connected world "where reputations are made and lost on internet reviews and competition across channels is increasingly fierce".
Those polled were asked whether they felt that companies in a range of sectors were easy to get in touch with and efficient at getting queries resolved rapidly and effectively. But the results show that many sectors are failing to meet demands.
Although utilities companies were not the worst culprits, says the report, the results leave much to be desired. A fifth (19 per cent) of customers surveyed score the sector as 'poor' for ease of contact and a third (32 per cent) as 'basic'.
It is far easier now to switch utilities providers, and previous Yonder research shows that 81 per cent of customers simply take their business elsewhere if a proved fails to respond swiftly - making it highly risky for utilities firms to continue overlooking their ease of 'contactability'.
Chris Robinson, CEO at Yonder Digital Group, said: "Customers have individual preferences for contacting companies, which is why businesses lose out when they don't offer a range of touch-points. At crucial moments in the journey to purchase, many customers will look for a live agent, particularly for urgent or non-standard queries. Businesses that fail to provide support at these critical stages risk losing customers to competitors with superior support services.
"As the results show, a large proportion of companies are still falling well below the mark, suggesting there is a long way to go for UK industries to catch up with modern expectations."