Dentists Top the Customer Service League

  • Anil Kanda
  • 16 Aug, 2012

We may not like visiting them, but dentists provide a far better customer service than all the other professions, according to new research unveiled today. In a study among over 1,000 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 Results International 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.”

Results International has worked with many well-known companies and organisations including the Home Office, Nationwide, Phones4u, Forest Holidays and Vodafone. The company says that 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 rethink your systems, cuts in employee training or numbers are always felt by the customer.

Stephenson believes 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.”

Note: Interviewees were able to nominate more than one.

Have a GOOD Customer Service Attitude

Dentists 47%
Hotel receptionists 39%
Hairdressers 39%
Supermarket checkout employees 31%
Waiters 30%
Doctors 27%
Beauty therapists 27%
Police 26%
Hospital employees 23%
Bar staff 20%
Taxi drivers 14%
Post office employees 12%
Postal workers 10%
Gym employees 9%
Trades people 9%
General shop assistants 8%
Garage mechanics 7%
Builders 7%
Council workers 5%

Have a BAD Customer Service Attitude

Council  workers 40%
Post  office employees 30%
Police 27%
Supermarket  checkout employees 27%
Hospital  employees 26%
Doctors 23%
General  shop assistants 20%
Trades  people 20%
Bar  staff 18%
Builders 18%
Garage  mechanics 16%
Hotel  receptionists 13%
Taxi  drivers 12%
Gym  employees 12%
Waiters 10%
Postal  workers 7%
Dentists 1%
Hairdressers 0%
Beauty  therapists 0%

When the bad and good scores are netted out the league table is as follows:

Dentists 46
Hairdressers 39
Beauty  therapists 27
Hotel  receptionists 26
Waiters 20
Doctors 4
Supermarket  checkout employees 4
Postal  workers 3
Bar  staff 2
Taxi  drivers 2
More noted for  their poor customer service than their good
Police -1
Hospital employees -3
Gym employees -3
Garage mechanics -9
Trades people -11
Builders -11
General shop assistants -12
Post office employees -18
Council workers -35

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