Exploring the 2016 UK Customer Satisfaction Index

The UK Institute of Customer Service recently released the January 2016 UK Customer Satisfaction Index. This research is updated twice a year and explores the level and quality of customer service in the UK across various industry sectors, including both the private and public sector.

The immediate headline that leapt out for me was that customer satisfaction across all industries is now at the highest recorded level since January 2014. Clearly, companies in the UK are taking customer satisfaction more seriously than ever.

The research features many well-known brands, exploring their own ability to keep customers happy. John Lewis lost their title as best British company for customer service and actually has toppled out of the top three for the first time in seven years. Amazon UK rose up from number two to number one with a score of 86.6, followed by the energy provider Utility Warehouse, a new entrant, and the HSBC-owned online bank First Direct.

Overall, the utilities sector improved the most, gaining 1.9 points on last year, closely followed by insurance companies and food retailers, which added 1.6 and 1.5 points respectively. Banks and building societies fell by 0.4 points to an average of 78 points despite improving significantly since the banking crisis. Non-food retailers held their position as the sector with the highest satisfaction score.

Satisfaction when using multiple channels is driven by the type of experience or interaction. In person (46.9%), website (22.6%) and over the phone (20.2%) are the primary methods customers use to interact with organisations. Most customers (58%) use only one channel of communication when they interact with organisations. However, a sizeable minority says that they use two (34.1%), three (5.6%) or more than three (2.3%) channels.

Personally I think that this figure of 2.3% of customers using three or more channels appears to be lower than what I would expect, but it may be that many customers just don’t appreciate how many channels they are using regularly today. Customers who used three or more channels were much more likely to say that they had experienced a problem with the organisation in the previous three months and give organisations a lower customer satisfaction rating. This probably reflects the sophistication of customers familiar with many channels – they are the most likely to be posting complaints on Facebook and Twitter.

One of the key implications this research highlights is the importance of your people. The biggest differentiator between the top 50 companies and all the rest is the way that they work with their employees to ensure they are engaged and able to offer genuine help to customers via any channel. I agree that this is a critical element. If your customer service team is disengaged and not interested in the work then it doesn’t matter how great your strategy looks when presented on PowerPoint.

You can read a summary of the research on the ICS website here. Please do leave a comment or get in touch via my LinkedIn – do you agree on the key issues I highlighted?

Camden//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Photo by Mike Beales licensed under Creative Commons.

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