Surly shop staff lose out to the internet

Shoppers think sales assistants in the UK are more surly and less helpful than they were 10 years ago.

Research by consultancy Grass Roots was based on 1,775 visits by mystery shoppers to more than 60 major stores, banks, estate agents, pubs, restaurants, cafes and petrol stations.

Customers are less satisfied and more frustrated by visits to the high street. And they are also more clued up than they were 10 years ago – with the internet providing more information on goods than shop workers.

Compared with a similar survey 10 years ago, customer service has fallen by 3.3%, while customer satisfaction was down by 1.6%.

The biggest fall was in the knowledge of sales assistants – down by 7%.

However, retail union Usdaw read the results differently. He said: “This survey found that, despite the fact that shoppers are far more informed and demanding than they have ever been, shop staff still provide overwhelmingly good customer service,” said general secretary John Hannett.

Usdaw said its members provided excellent customer service despite a 35% rise in the verbal abuse of staff by customers in the past 12 months.

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