STANDARDS of customer service are slipping, a survey has revealed.
But a Huddersfield expert says customers are also becoming more demanding and that most organisations have improved their performance.
More than half of people polled by the British Standards Institute believe customer service is getting worse in the UK.
Just one in 10 says it is getting better.
The BSI report revealed a catalogue of bad business practice from banks, shops, energy firms and other service providers.
Three-quarters of people polled said they had come across rude or `clueless' staff while a similar number said they had been ignored by staff when trying to get help or service.
One in five people complained about assistants talking on their mobile phones while they were serving.
And eight out of 10 people had encountered staff chatting to colleagues instead of dealing with customers.
Three-quarters of people polled said they had walked out of a shop without making a purchase or switched supplier after receiving poor service.
Two-thirds had made an official complaint - and almost half said they had been fobbed off with a standard reply which did not answer their question.
Nigel Hill, co-founder of customer research company The Leadership Factor, said the survey underlined how people remembered bad experiences and took good customer service for granted.
He added: "A lot of organisations are giving better service than 20 years ago, but customers' expectations are up.
"In surveys we carry out every year we find people are more demanding than they were even 10 years ago."
Mr Hill said a small minority of organisations were offering worse service than before - due to cost- cutting and lack of staff training.
He said: "They see the customer as an irritation, rather than the reason their business exists."