Nearly six out of 10 people complaining about Royal Mail services were dissatisfied with the way their complaint was handled, a new study from the national watchdog Consumer Focus has claimed.
The study by DJS Research on behalf of the watchdog also looked at complaints handling in five other service sectors. It noted that Royal Mail had 1.2m complaints from the public a year, more than twice the number of the big six energy companies in Britain combined.
The research itself comprised in-depth interviews with 125 people who have complained about Royal Mail products or services.
It said only 41% of those surveyed about Royal Mail were satisfied with their complaints experience, compared to 65% for legal services, 47% for water services, and 41% for energy services. Telecoms companies were judged the worst performers in the study, with just 30% of complaining customers satisfied.
The survey group suggested that 27% of those complaining about Royal Mail wanted services to improve, 22% demanded compensation, 21% wanted a refund, and 19% wanted an apology.
Consumer Focus commented that more customers were dissatisfied than satisfied with the way their complaints were handled.
One of Royal Mail’s biggest problems was in giving customers enough information to deal with the complaint.
The study also highlighted the gripe among those who gave up on the complaints process before it was resolved that they felt they were dealing with “anonymous bodies in unreachable offices”.
Prashant Vaze, the chief economist at Consumer Focus, said under-performing in the handling of complaints could be bad for businesses, undermining their relationship with customers.
With the growth of social media, poor complaints experiences “make it easy to publicly dent a company’s reputation”, he said.
“The benefit of getting complaint handling right should be as plain as the nose on your face. But the evidence suggests much more needs to be done and some of that involves some pretty basic customer service principles,” said Vaze.
Referring generally to the sectors involved in the study, Vaze said some of the issues that “appear time and time again” among surveys of this kind were the lack of speed in which complaints are handled, and the tone of responses.
A lack of information on the progress of complaints and customers being passed over to other staff and having to explain the complaint repeatedly was also a key problem.
Royal Mail said that it was “always keen to further our customer experience”, but pointed out that the research behind the Consumer Focus report was based on data from March 2011, involving “just a few hundred people”.
“By comparison, Royal Mail surveys thousands of customers every month to ensure that we are accurately tracking our customer experience,” a spokesperson told Post&Parcel.
“Among that monthly survey are a number of customers who we survey about their experience of us handling their complaints. Our tracking among those customers shows that more than 80% are satisfied with the way Royal Mail handled their complaint.”
Source: Post&Parcel/Consumer Focus