Business development · 25 July 2017

UK consumers reveal the top five most intimidating professions

Chefs were seen as suffering from a so-called “Gordon Ramsey effect”
Chefs were seen as suffering from a so-called “Gordon Ramsey effect”

A new study has uncovered the most intimidating professions striking fear into British consumers, as findings reveal how personalities can negatively impact the customer experience.

In a nationwide survey of 2,000 adults, undertaken by Fletchers Solicitors, high-octane roles in the hospitality industry were rated as the most intimidating professions. Over two-thirds of respondents said communicating with bar and restaurant workers was a daunting prospect.

In particular, chefs were cited as suffering from a so-called “Gordon Ramsey effect”, while respondents also feared reckoning with waiting staff and bartenders.

Financial services workers such as accountants, bookkeepers and traders were close to follow, with 64 per cent afraid of professionals in the industry.

Call centre workers appeared to divide opinion, with just over half apprehensive of the kind of reception they would receive. Often maligned railway staff could also relax, after falling fifth in the league table of intimidating professions.

Lessons from Sam Allardyce: Dealing with staff that took an axe to your reputation

At the other end of the spectrum, healthcare workers were considered the most likeable by 73 per cent of respondents, while teachers and education staff were trusted by almost seven in ten.

Commenting on the findings, Alex Kenny, marketing director at Fletchers Solicitors, said it was “surprising” to see customer-facing professions like hospitality as the most unapproachable.

“Perhaps those who work in industries that provide care and support such as health and education could teach others how to improve their delivery and customer handling skills,” he suggested.

Kenny added: “We regularly see the likes of Gordon Ramsay and his fiery temper on television programmes and it seems it is indicative of a wider trend across the industry.

With customer observations now out in the open, small business owners should take note of the impact negative perceptions can have on a company’s bottom line.

Kenny implied that in any industry, a degree of friendliness and warmth could go a long way.

“When selling a product or service there must be a general level of approachability between provider and client and the customer should feel at ease,” he explained, “whether at a restaurant dining table or providing customer services”.

“An anxious or stressed client can also lead to miscommunications and even in some cases problems such as medical negligence.”

Find out how whether your business needs to brush up on its customer service skills

The UK’s top five most intimidating professions

  1. Hospitality (chefs, waiting staff, bartenders) – 68 per cent
  2. Financial services (accountants, bookkeepers, traders) – 64 per cent
  3. Trades (construction, electrical, plumbing) – 59 per cent
  4. IT and telecommunications (call centre workers) – 55 per cent
  5. Transport (rail workers, airline staff) – 53 per cent

 The UK’s top five most liked professions

  1. Healthcare (doctors, nurses) – 73 per cent
  2. Education (teachers, lecturers) – 69 per cent
  3. Emergency services (police, fire service) – 64 per cent
  4. Legal (lawyers, barristers) – 62 per cent
  5. Marketing – 60 per cent

Keep reading as we explain why a human touch is vital to a company’s customer service experience

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.