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Are you being served in National Customer Service Week?

On average, Britons tip £13.20 a month for good service – equivalent to a staggering £6.3 billion a year – according to a nationwide poll on customer service carried out by specialist insurance provider, RIAS.

The ‘Are you being served?' study, published during this year's ‘National Customer Service Week', shows that three quarters of people (75%) tip more or as frequently now as they did six months ago, and only one fifth (21%) have changed their habits due to the recession.

The fact we're still a nation that continues to recognise great service will come as particularly good news for the hospitality industry. New regulation, announced by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, means it is illegal for bars and restaurants to use tips to bring their employee pay up to the minimum wage, and that a greater share of the tips given by consumers for good service will go directly to those who have delivered the service.

A nation not afraid to complain
And we're no longer willing to suffer poor service in silence. The stereotype of the mild-mannered Briton who won't complain for fear of making a fuss is now truly a thing of the past. Over nine out of ten (93%) people complain if they experience poor service, with over a quarter (28%) voting with their feet.

Over 50s demand high service standards
The over 50s are also the most discerning customers when it comes to good service and the most likely to take a stand, with 94% not prepared to tolerate poor service. Asking to speak to someone more senior (29%), making a verbal complaint (28%), and going elsewhere (28%) are the top strategies for dealing with bad service across the nation.

The research report from RIAS also outlines the aspects that Britons most value about good customer service, as well as revealing their biggest bug-bears. One third (34%) of Britons rate ‘service with a smile' as the most important attribute, closely followed by good knowledge (29%). However when asked what annoyed them, over a third (36%) can't tolerate rude behaviour, while the inability to help or answer questions infuriates one in five (18%).

The study also shows:
‘Service with a smile' is most important for today's consumers at restaurants, hotels and supermarkets.

Over half of over 50s (56%, compared with 38% of 18 - 29 year olds) think good service should come as standard.

One quarter of young people (25%) want to eat and run, compared with just one in ten (12%) of the older respondents, who want to take time to enjoy the experience of eating out.

‘Thirty somethings' are the most generous, with one in five (19%) regularly tipping between 11 - 15% for good service.

Janet Connor, Managing Director at RIAS, comments: "Our latest research shows that good service is quite rightly being rewarded but that poor service is no longer being tolerated - especially among the over 50s."

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