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Customer satisfaction levels fell in 2013 although retail remains the best performing sector

A new study has shown that customer satisfaction in the UK fell during the last quarter of 2013 although non-food retail remained the highest performing sector.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Customer satisfaction levels fell in 2013 although retail remains the best performing sector

A new study has shown that customer satisfaction in the UK fell during the last quarter of 2013 although non-food retail remained the highest performing sector.

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index, which is published every six months by the Institute of Customer Service, also recorded a fall in July 2013, following an unbroken series of increases between January 2009 and January 2013.

The latest survey of 12,000 people found that overall customer satisfaction in the UK was 77.1 (out of 100) in January 2014 compared to 78.2 in January 2013. Customer satisfaction levels were shown to have fallen in 12 of the 13 sectors covered by UKCSI, with only the banking and building societies sector bucking the trend with a small increase of 0.2 points.

The results of the study also show that customer service is a key part of customers’ buying decisions with 60% of those surveyed stating that they favoured a balance of price and service and that they would not accept low service levels in exchange for a cheap deal. In addition, 25% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay a premium for the highest levels of service while just 15% said they were looking for low cost, no-frills service.

A total of 39 organisations achieved an increase of one point or more in their customer satisfaction score since January 2013, whereas 81 saw a fall of at least one point. The remaining 69 organisations included in the study either registered no movement or moved up or down by less than one percentage point.

Amazon was the highest scoring organisation with John Lewis coming in second place. However, only four of the top 20 ranked organisations increased their customer satisfaction by more than one point, signalling the importance of keeping a clear focus on service.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, said: “As the economy begins to grow organisations need to recognise that the customer service experience they deliver is increasingly important in customers’ buying decisions. Those organisations that focus on differentiating through customer service are well placed to achieve sustainable performance. But to do this they need to view customer service as integral to building customer relationships across the value chain, not just as a series of transactions.

The index revealed that food retailers with a UKCSI score above the average for the sector saw an average year-on-year growth, based on the 12 week period prior to 14 October 2013, of 9% compared to only 3% period for those with scores below the sector average.

Non-food retail remained the highest performing sector, despite posting a drop of 1.3 points to 83.1 from July 2013. Utilities was the lowest performing sector with a score of 69, down two points since July 2013.

Causon added: “UKCSI has consistently demonstrated the close link between customer service and market share, loyalty and sales growth. In the retail food sector the highest performing organisations for customer service have increased their market share, further strengthening the business case for customer service.”

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