Customer service league - dentists top, council workers bottom - Business Works
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Customer service league - dentists top, council workers bottom

Paul Stephenson, MD, Results International We may not like visiting them, but dentists provide a far better customer service than all the other professions, according to new research recently unveiled.

In a study among over 1000 consumers by customer service training experts, Results International, 47% of people said they think dentists have a good customer service attitude, compared with just 27% who voted for doctors and 30% for waiters. Indeed, according to the study ‘Is Your Customer Service World Class?’ people are more than twice as likely to receive good customer service from dentists as they are from bar staff, who were only applauded by one in five of consumers (20%).

Hotel receptionists and hairdressers also performed well in the customer service stakes, receiving nominations from 39% of people. However, gym employees secured only 9% of the vote and in fact were more likely to be noted for their bad customer service approach by 12%, plunging them into the league of poorest performers. Other groups more likely to be noted for poor customer service included police, hospital staff, general shop assistants, post office staff and council workers. The latter were voted for by a whopping 40% as having a bad customer service attitude.

Some high pressure professions such as police, hospital personnel and, to an extent, council workers, may well be bound up in red tape which prevents them from being more service orientated, or they may be stereo-typed and this perhaps explains why they appear in the league of poorest performers. However, the presence of general shop assistants and gym staff is less understandable as Paul Stephenson, Managing Director of Results International, comments:

"Gym staff operating at the very heart of the leisure sector, often in member-based organisations, should have a strong service ethic running through all they do. It suggests there are some issues with their training or even recruitment, which is causing this service gap, perhaps with people being taken on for their skills, but not their attitude."

"We have worked with many well-known companies and organisations including the Home Office, Nationwide, Phones4u, Forest Holidays and Vodafone and we have found some of the secrets to delivering a great level of customer service are:

  • Part of the role: The high performing individuals (dentists, hairdressers, beauty therapists, hotel receptionists and waiters) are performing roles where customer service sits at the heart of the delivery. It’s defined in the role and is what the customer is buying.
  • Value: It is also easy in many of these roles for the employees involved to put a monetary value on that service and thus prioritise it – after all in many instances they are tipped, reinforcing for them the importance of service.
  • Attitude not just aptitude: As perhaps in the case of gym employees, skills without a customer service attitude will not translate into a good customer service experience.
  • Keeping service in mind no matter what corporate decisions you take. For instance, unless you re-think your systems, cuts in employee training or numbers are always felt by the customer."

"I believe that this last point could account for the poor relative performance of some shop assistants and post office employees in the study. It could be that retailers and post offices are keeping their head count to an absolute minimum and this is impacting on an individual's ability to deliver good customer service. Often cuts in staff are inevitable but to do this without thinking about the systems you operate or the way remaining employees are trained and developed is madness."

"With a world of suppliers to choose from, the increasingly online consumer expects things to be delivered fast and on their terms. Customer service is now seen as an intrinsic part of the buying process – not a nice to have, but an essential. What’s more, if an organisation fails to live up to expectations, people can share their displeasure instantly with everyone they know (and thousands they don’t) through a Tweet, a Facebook update or an online review," concluded Paul.

The league table

Positive scores      Negative scores  
Dentists 46    Police -1
Hairdressers 39    Hospital employees -3
Beauty therapists 27    Gym employees -3
Hotel receptionists 26    Garage mechanics -9
Waiters 20    Trades people -11
Doctors 4    Builders -11
Supermarket checkout 4    Shop assistants -12
Postal workers 3    Post office staff -18
Bar staff 2    Council staff -35
Taxi drivers 2       

Note: the greater the positive score, the more likely it is that the employee group is known for having a good customer care attitude. In contrast, those with a negative score are more widely known for their bad customer service attitude.

To download a free copy of Results International’s Report ‘Is Your Customer Service World Class?’ please visit: or phone 01926 741111.

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