British consumers are more intolerant of poor customer service than their counterparts in the US, something that may surprise many who assume our American cousins are more vocal – and could have businesses scrambling to improve their service offerings.

A poll by NewVoiceMedia discovered that £12 billion is transferred between companies in the UK every year due to bad interactions, twice as much as is the case in the US. This also does not include the cost of replacing lost customers and dealing with the effects of bad publicity.

In both nations, an average of 48 per cent of consumers reported taking their business elsewhere because of a bad experience and dissatisfaction with how they were dealt with. The majority left because they did not feel appreciated.

That’s not to say British consumers were quick to abandon the companies in question though – 58 per cent said they would offer the business an opportunity to resolve the issue by writing to complain, compared to just 37 per cent in the US.

While the figures may appear somewhat daunting, the fact that 72 per cent of respondents said good service had a considerable positive influence on their loyalty means they also show the opportunities that can be had by striving to provide this every time.

NewVoiceMedia’s Jonathan Gale said: “This research reinforces just how much influence customers have on a business’s success. Great customer service is the critical differentiator and investing in providing personalised and engaging customer experiences every time, through every channel, will help businesses succeed in retaining customers and securing new business.”

This may be something firms in the British retail sector need to keep in mind after new figures showed that sales fell in February for the first time in ten months.

The British Retail Consortium said like-for-like retail sales dipped by one per cent compared to last year, with KPMG’s David McCorquodale warning they are a “reminder that recovery is far from certain”.

A particularly wet winter was blamed, but the news is sure to mean that retailers are going to have to go the extra mile to stand out if they want to recover – and that could mean showcasing fantastic service.