Petrol forecourts are falling behind other retail sectors in the customer service stakes, according to a new report. Encouragingly, however, they rank ahead of supermarkets.

Forecourts were ranked seventh out of 14 retail sectors – supermarkets were 12th – in the new Are You Being Served? survey by the Grass Roots Group, which showed that, across all retail sectors, 26.3% of shoppers would not recommend the store they visited to their friends and family. It also showed that customer service and satisfaction levels have all declined in the past 10 years since the last Grass Roots (Front Line) report into customer service.

The study was based on 1,775 mystery shopper visits across a range of retail outlets. While petrol stations scored very highly for product knowledge and waiting to be served (both 100%), some sites were let down by staff who showed poor customer courtesy, such as failing to smile or make any kind of greeting and carrying on conversations among themselves while serving. The report also found that male forecourt customers experienced better customer service than women. Of the mystery shoppers who visited the petrol stations in the survey, 81.6% said – based on their customer service experience – that they would return, and 74.7% would recommend the site.

David Evans, CEO of Grass Roots, said the results showed that many retailers were finding it difficult to maintain the high levels of customer service that their “increasingly savvy shoppers now expect”.