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Published on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

UK customer service lacking as 2012 approaches

Leisure and tourism workers are simply not welcoming enough and need to up their game in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games, according to a new survey.

The study by customer experience analysts Sidona Group showed that 59% of customers do not think the UK will be ready to deliver a world class experience when the UK comes under the spotlight next year.

The poll, carried out as part of National Customer Service Week, tested out perceptions of customer experience in hotels, restaurants and attractions and concludes there is a “clear need” for enhanced staff training.

More than 25% of those surveyed think hospitality businesses only deliver ‘acceptable’ experiences while 57% of those polled think staff skills need improving. Some 16% say the product is “simply not up to scratch”.

The poll also looked at the UK customer experience geographically and found that 57% of tourists say they get the best experience in the South West. That figure dropped to 20% when talking about London.

Customer experience director Sidona Group Anne Blackburn said: “We are obviously not quite there yet when it comes to making sure frontline leisure and tourism businesses deliver the sort of experience our visitors expect.

“With Visit Britain estimating that tourism outside London is set to benefit by £0.62 billion as a result of the Olympics, it is critical that we get the experience right if we are to benefit long term. 

“Our survey shows that getting products and processes right is just a small part of the picture.  With over 50% of an experience coming from the emotions staff evoke when interacting with visitors, and this could be negative -  frustrated, neglected, disappointed -  or positive - valued, cared for, pleased - it is vital the experience generates the positive emotions that leave lasting memories visitors will treasure and, most importantly, share.” 

She added: “Businesses must start to question how and what they are delivering to their customers and if they are going to benefit from summer 2012 they need to do so now.”


By Dinah Hatch

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  • It has been improving

    My experience is that over the last 10 years service has improved quite a lot, particularly in London, mainly I think because many of the staff seem to come from Eastern Europe and are more customer oriented. Recently I have seen a few young Irish people working in places like Starbucks and Costa and they also seem to have a good attitude to their customers. There is always scope for improvement, but let's not knock the thousands of good and caring workers in the British hospitality industry.

    By Martin Drew, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

  • Matter of Opinion & cultural differences

    Good customer service is also a matter of opinion, I have been subjected to abuse just because I told someone I couldn't provide what he requested. If a company does not offer that service, but the customer wants it, they consider it is poor service to not provide it. This doesn't mean that the employee is giving bad customer service, it means the customer needs to accept that they won't get what they want from that company and go elsewhere. 'Surly' or sharp responses often come because the employee is being unfairly treated for just doing their job. Other cultures have a whole different attitude to customer service in that, quite often, the staff member is seen as the lowest of the low and must obey what the customer demands. In other places where the service industry is very highly respected, the employees are paid well and therefore you get the good ones who are willing to go the extra mile and make the difference.

    By Claire Gerrard, Friday, October 28, 2011

  • London Service

    It has to do with those long hours, and poor compensation. These poor people are being asked to work with their brawn, but their hearts too. Unfortunately, they seem to be paid only for the physical work. I believe the remuneration makes one very stressed.

    By Richard Mandunya, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • Customer service - misnomer.

    Customer service is in part the instinct of the individual and in part the setting, supported by the manager/company. Too many companies these days regard their "customer service representatives" as the first line of defence of the company's bottom line and legal responsibilities resulting in a first (often surly) response of "no". My own experience in the West of England and London this year suggests that the survey got it right.

    By Jeff Barlow, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • Do those working in the UK have it worse off?

    Hi Rebecca, You bring up a good point. But those in other countries can deliver so are those in the UK being worked too hard, don't they have enough breaks etc? The UK lags behind, so finding out what the root of the problem is a good start. Giving poor service from the get go because someone might be rude to you or the previous person was is not the solution nor is it professional.

    By Michelle Brideau, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • Travel Customer Care

    Personally I feel that this is very unfair. Travel Industry workers work long hours and have to deal with countless episodes of abuse, swearing, physical violence, lewd behaviour to name a few. The public's approach to customer service workers must also be accountable. There is no need for this behaviour no matter what the situation.

    By Rebecca Kikkides, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • where's their region?

    From my recent visits, it is difficult for most hotel/restaurant staff to identify with "their region" - they come from anywhere else but where they are working, which doesn't stop many of them having a helpful friendly attitude (maybe more than the locals!)

    By Philip Clarke, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

  • Sad but true

    I agree with this poll and my visit to Canada last week was a stark example of how far the UK has to go. People there seem sincerely glad to help (from tourism workers to those on the street) and happy that you are visiting their country/province.

    By Michelle McCann, Wednesday, October 26, 2011



    By IAN WELLARD, Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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