Consumer Skills
16th June 2004


<p>Many businesses here need to improve their skills in customer service and provide staff training in customer care, consumer rights and complaints handling. This is the key finding in the General Consumer Council’s latest research - Consumer Knowledge, Business Report - launched on 16 June.</p>

In addition, the report highlights that some businesses do not have a clear understanding of consumer rights and do not know where to go for help with consumer complaints. Business awareness of consumer protection organisations is also poor and as a consequence, they are missing out on a vital source of advice and practical help especially when dealing with disputes. 

David Dobbin, Chairman of the CBI here said: “I commend the General Consumer Council for this initiative and would encourage all businesses large or small to be customer led. Putting the consumer first really does pay dividends.

“Consumers are more demanding and discerning than ever before. To succeed in today's competitive world, businesses must be able to offer products and services that consumers want and offer these to the highest standards of value and care. Those companies who do this best will reap the benefits in sales, market share and profit.” 

Steve Costello, Chairman at the Consumer Council said: “The Government's Consumer Strategy states that confident, demanding consumers can drive up business performance and competitiveness and that businesses benefit from listening to and fully understanding their customers' expectations. The report shows that there is room for improvement in Northern Ireland.

“Local businesses should put consumers at their heart of their operation by fully understanding their importance to the economy. The benefits to businesses are clear.

“I would like to commend the 100 small, medium and large local businesses for being open and willing to participate in this study. We will use the findings to target and inform our continuing work with the business sector, consumer organisations and advice and enforcement bodies to work together and build a healthy and competitive marketplace that works for consumers.”

The report will be launched at Armagh and City District Council offices on Wednesday 16 June 2004.


1. General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]

2. The General Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.

3. For more information, visit our website at