Almost two thirds of customers dissatisfied with service

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Almost two thirds of customers dissatisfied with service since start of pandemic: Staff shortages, Covid, Brexit and financial issues make it harder for businesses (Credit: Getty/Henrik Sorensen)
Almost two thirds of customers dissatisfied with service since start of pandemic: Staff shortages, Covid, Brexit and financial issues make it harder for businesses (Credit: Getty/Henrik Sorensen)

Related tags Customer service coronavirus Training

Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers felt service standards had dipped across the sector compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to HGEM.

The guest experience management companies’ customer survey revealed of the 407 respondents, 61% were dissatisfied and the most disgruntled were Millennials.


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More than two thirds (70%) of 36- to 45-year-olds believed standards in the industry had slipped and 63% of 26- to 35-year-olds agreed, both categories can be classed as Millennials, who are arguably the biggest consumers of hospitality services.

However, 57% of both Generation X (aged 46 to 55) and Boomers (aged 55 to 65) believed service standards had dropped, while only 55% of Generation Z (aged 18-5), reducing to 48% of those aged 66 or over.

Areas of service which have suffered, according to the survey, were quality, speed, atmosphere, and food quality, of which service quality and atmosphere were the most disappointing for customers.

Communication is key

With all the challenges faced by hospitality businesses in recent years, such as Covid, Brexit, recruitment crisis, supply shortages and a rise in the cost of living, achieving pre-pandemic levels of service would be no small feat.

However, the majority of all generations surveyed by HGEM agreed if they were made aware of these issues upon arrival at a venue, they would be much more understanding. 

For example, help wanted signs displayed, cards on tables explaining the situation or simply being told by a server of staff shortages were all ways customers felt communication could aid their patience.

Of those aged 26 to 35, 71% would be more forgiving if they knew which areas a venue had been struggling in, whereas 74% of 36-45-year-olds felt this and 73% of both Generation X and Boomers concurred, though the majority stated this would not be acceptable across multiple visits.

However, it was Generation Z who would be the most forgiving (80%) while those aged 66 or over were not as agreeable as 66% said they would still not be forgiving of mishaps after being made aware of any struggles being faced by an establishment.

Venues desperate to trade 

The survey also revealed men were more likely to be disappointed with a reduction in the quality of service than women and were more likely to be less forgiving.

While 59% of female respondents felt service had dipped since the start of the pandemic, 65% of men said they had seen a decline in service experiences with 66% having said they would not be forgiving after being made aware of any issues, whereas 74% of women said they would.

The Department for Work and Pensions recently unveiled its Way to Work scheme, which proposed to get 500,000 unemployed back into work by June, in a bid to help solve hospitality staff shortages.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We hope this new initiative will contribute to plugging hospitality’s jobs gap, which remains a huge threat to recovery for the sector and, by extension, the wider economy.”

“With restrictions now lifted, it has been heart-breaking to see venues that were so desperate to trade fully for the first time in nearly two years, forced to reduce their opening hours or simply not open at all due to a lack of staff."

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