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Construction sector home to strong customer service levels

Construction firms both recognise the need for good customer service and have confidence in their customer service capabilities, according to the Close Brothers Business Barometer.

Over three quarters (76%) of construction sector businesses surveyed believe that their customer service is of a very high standard, with the remaining firms (24%) having plans in place to further improve their capabilities in this area.

The Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of UK SME owners and senior management from a range of sectors, also revealed just under half (48%) of SMEs in the construction sector do not have a dedicated customer service staff member or team in place.

Overall, over two fifths (44%) of firms don't think a specific customer service team is necessary and a fifth (19%) believe only larger organisations need them. Further investigation of the figures shows that, unsurprisingly, the smaller a firm’s revenue, the less necessary they feel it is to have a customer services function.

Commenting on the figures, Steve Gee, Managing Director of the Industrial Equipment Division at Close Brothers Asset Finance said: “It’s well known that customer experience can be a key differentiator, and research shows that by doing it well, organisations can drive the customer acquisition, retention and efficiency that make leading companies successful.

“Recent studies show that UK companies are losing £11 billion a year due to poor customer service so it makes for encouraging reading that a significant amount of businesses in the construction sector consider their customer service levels to be of a high standard and for many more to be still striving to improve. Good customer service is a necessity and this industry clearly believes in it.”

The results also showed that when it comes to answering enquiries, social media was the least preferred option, with just 3% utilising this option. The most popular customer service channels were ‘in person’, followed by ‘phone’ and ‘email’.

Mr Gee added: “It’s interesting that less than one in 10 (8%) firms cited a lack of manpower or budget as the reason for not having someone responsible for customer service, even among smaller firms. This shows that firms are confident about how their businesses are structured and the relationship they have with their customers.

“And despite the advent of new channels of communication, personal interaction - either in person or over the phone – is still by some distance the favoured way to connect with customers, and I don’t see that changing any time soon for construction sector businesses.

“Clearly, people recognise that things could always be done better, but overall, these are a strong set of results for SMEs, who understand the importance of delivering high levels of customer service at all times, and are, in many cases, actively putting forward plans for improvement.”