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Engine of the Service Economy: Customer Service Workforce Triples in 8 Years

Engine of the Service Economy: Customer Service Workforce Triples in 8 Years 

328,000 people now work in UK customer service, up from 98,000 in 2002

Customer service now represents almost &pound5 billion in wages each year

But pay in customer service remains 34% below the UK average 

The Institute of Customer Service today reveals that the number of people working in customer service roles in Britain has more than tripled in the past 8 years. Yet wages in the sector remain significantly below the national average.

The joint study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), shows that the total number of people employed in customer service occupations has grown from 98,000 in 2002 to 328,000, and now accounts for approximately 1.5% of all employed adults in the UK. 

The findings also show that the total UK wages for those employed in customer services rose from &pound1.2 billion in 2002 to &pound4.9 billion in 2010. According to projections by the Institute of Customer Service and Cebr, this is forecast to rise to &pound6 billion by 2015. 

Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service comments: “The rise in prominence of customer service over the past decade is not surprising given that almost 77% of the UK’s GDP is now service related. 

“However, total wages in the sector do not reflect the importance of customer service to the UK economy.” 

Paying The Price for Service?

Despite the significant increase in customer service roles, the sector remains undervalued in salary terms. Average earnings were just &pound14,868 in 2010, not far above the national minimum wage of &pound12,334 and significantly below the national average wage of &pound22,568.* 

Jo Causon, comments: “With National Customer Service Week beginning today and hundreds of UK organisations involved, we are calling upon companies to recognise customer service as a true profession.

“With rising youth unemployment, and few jobs available to this year’s raft of fresh graduates, companies should highlight the opportunities for professional development and lifelong career options in customer service, to attract young talent into this fast-growing industry.

“There is arguably no more important job role than that which interacts with the customer, and if we want to provide world-class service in this country, employers have to invest more in the people that deliver for the customer.”

Fred Sirieix, General Manager at Galvin at Windows-London Hilton Park Lane, creator of The Art of Service and star of Michel Roux’s BBC 2 Series, Service, comments: “The disconnect between the ocean of opportunities out there and the lack of interest people have in the service industry in the UK makes one thing clear. We need a complete culture change in the UK when it comes to customer service.

“With the Olympics looming, we need to make the UK the world champion of customer service. National Customer Service Week is the perfect opportunity to call for this.”


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