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Nearly half of customer service staff consider quitting over growing customer abuse

Posted on in Business News

More than two-fifths (44%) of customer service staff are considering leaving their roles due to increasing levels of cost-of-living fuelled abuse from customers.

Not this bread

According to new research from retail analysts at the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), a poll of 1,488 customer-facing staff found that levels of abuse remain high, with nearly half (42%) saying they experienced hostility in the past six months.

Two-thirds (66%) cite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis as a trigger for customer frustrations, and a quarter (25%) expect their role to become more challenging over the next six months.

Reports range from verbal hostility, with 75% experiencing shouting and 60% swearing)l, and more than a quarter of retail staff experienced physical violence.

Back in March, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned of “appalling levels” of violence and abuse against retail workers since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the high incidence of hostility, almost half (47%)of those who faced it did not report the incident.

The most common reasons cited were the belief that it would not make a difference and that it happens too regularly to be worth reporting.

Promisingly, nearly a third of those surveyed were aware of the change in law – which came into effect late last year – that makes it an aggravated offence to assault any retail staff member.

However, almost a quarter (23%) still do not feel safe and protected against instances of customer abuse and hostility.

“It’s clear that customer anxiety and frustrations brought on by the cost-of-living crisis are triggering behaviours that echo the hostility suffered by frontline staff during the pandemic,” CEO of the Institute of Customer Service Jo Causon commented.

“We cannot allow such abuse of workers vital to our society to become endemic. I urge organisations to ensure they take this issue seriously and report incidents to the police, and I encourage Government to continue to focus on this issue following the change in the law to sentencing guidance last year.”

Causon said such abuse was making it difficult attract and retain talent.

She added: “I urge employers to join us in adopting a zero-tolerance approach to hostility, and ensuring adequate training and support is available to staff to deal with instances of hostility as and when they arise.”

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