UK businesses are failing to provide adequate customer service via e-mail, according to web hosting firm Fasthosts.

Fasthost's survey of 1,300 UK customers found that 78 percent of British consumers have felt let down by a slow response to a customer service e-mail inquiry, while 89 percent of this group defected to a competitor brand as a result.

Fasthosts' research also suggests Britons are an impatient bunch. According to the findings, the average consumer sends three e-mails before receiving a satisfactory response, but most of us are only willing to wait 24 hours for a reply. One in five gives up after only 12 hours.

Furthermore, women are more patient than men, with 12 percent prepared to wait up to a week, compared with only 7 percent of men. Interestingly, men are statistically more likely to receive a quicker response (21 percent regularly receiving a reply within six to 12 hours).

Mark Jeffries, CTO of Fasthosts said: "British businesses really need to sit up and pay attention to their response rate for customer e-mails, or risk losing their customer base to competitor brands. The public suffers real stress from slow or sub-standard e-mail replies so it is no surprise they feel so strongly about the issue."