Consumers are fed up with organisations not listening to them and, while they value other consumer opinions, they may not be taking the opportunity to be heard themselves. That’s according to the results of a nationwide survey launched today in the annual trends report published by travel leaders Thomson and First Choice, who take 5.5 million people abroad every year.
The report includes the results of an independent online survey completed by 1,000 people* which found that just 3% of us think organisations listen to us enough, 61% feel we are listened to “sometimes” and a resounding 36% say organisations never listen to us.
Unsurprisingly, political parties and banks come in for the worst consumer scorn as the sectors least likely to listen to people’s needs. Best sectors are supermarkets, restaurants, high street shops, hotels, regional media, tour operators and national media. Organisations such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Premier Inn, Amazon, the BBC, Thomson, BA, 02, Lloyds TSB and the Conservative party were all volunteered as the best in their field at listening to people.
But are people too reticent to give feedback? Thomson and First Choice’s independent online survey and an additional online survey of 800 of their own customers found considerable similarities with regards to how people share information about a travel experience. About six out of ten have written a complaint about a previous travel experience, seven out of ten have (across all forms of travel) completed an organisation’s satisfaction form, but one in ten said they gave no feedback whatsoever to their travel provider. Similarly, more than half the survey respondents said they read online forums to research their holiday, but only a quarter of people say they’ve actually completed a review.
Demot Blastland, managing director TUI Travel UK & Ireland, the parent company of Thomson and First Choice, said: “We were very surprised to see how few people think their voices are heard by the companies and organisations that are set up to serve them. But if one in ten people aren’t giving any feedback at all, things won’t change as fast as they could. We want to encourage more people to give feedback on their experiences – whether it’s good or bad, a small or a major point.”
Thomson and First Choice undertook the research into consumer attitudes as part of a long-term initiative to drive the businesses according to customer views and needs.
Dermot Blastland continued: “We know, compared to some industries, our own sector hasn’t had a good reputation for listening and this is something we’re looking to change. But we would like to change on the basis of more travellers’ views. We can encourage that with research programmes and embedding independent review sites within our own company websites, but ultimately we want British travellers to be even more vocal about their experiences.”
Addressing customer views and needs has been the strategy since Thomson and First Choice came together under the TUI UK group two years ago. While some businesses may have been cutting back in the recession, TUI UK has been quietly investing in training and new services to improve customers’ travel experiences. A dedicated customer board made up of senior directors from every level of the business has been set up which even vetos cost savings if they aren’t in travellers’ interests.
In the past year, the companies have also taken hundreds of hotels out of brochures based on customer comments, retrained thousands of staff to be incentivised by customer satisfaction rather than sales figures, changed the way representatives provide information, modified transfer times to ensure fewer airport queues on returning journeys, invested in more ground staff as well as information at airports to help people in the event of a delay and invested in new customer service staff in the air.