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UK customer satisfaction falls for a second year: new study

New research by the Institute of Customer Service has shown that customer satisfaction levels in the UK have fallen for the second year running.


UK customer satisfaction falls for a second year: new study

New research by the Institute of Customer Service has shown that customer satisfaction levels in the UK have fallen for the second year running.

The Institute’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index, which surveyed nearly 10,000 consumers, reveals that retail topped the sector performance table followed closely by tourism, automotive and leisure, although this year’s scores fell slightly on last year.

This year, John Lewis topped the organisation table for customer satisfaction with Amazon coming in second place. However, within the index’s top ten only Tesco Mobile and Next improved their scores year-on-year.

Almost half of the 197 organisations featured in the index saw a drop in satisfaction by at least one point, including organisations that are consistently amongst the highest rated by their customers.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, said: “There are a number of factors that could be influencing the downward trend in satisfaction. Customer expectations are rising and their needs are changing more quickly, with speed, convenience and being easy to do business with particularly important. In this environment, organisations must invest in customer insight and apply it with agility. They will also need continuously to review their customer service skills, capabilities and standards to ensure they are relevant to changing customer needs.

“The UK is now a genuine relationship economy, where an organisation’s long-term success is determined by the quality of interactions between customers, suppliers, partners and organisations. The evidence in UKCSI shows a clear correlation between high levels of customer satisfaction and increased trust, loyalty, recommendation and sales growth, something that can be demonstrated clearly in the retail food sector.”

For the first time, the index has investigated levels of satisfaction by age group and has revealed what customers look for in their transactions with an organisation. The research showed that, rather than being a nation of grumpy old men, the people most likely to be dissatisfied with levels of customer service are from younger age-groups. The Institute said this suggests that customer expectations will continue to rise over time, and that organisations will need to adapt in order to maintain their customer focus.

Customers were also asked to assess the balance of price and service they want from the organisations they deal with. The majority of customers (60%) wanted a balance of price and service with at least threshold levels of customer service, in all sectors. 24% of customers indicated that they favoured excellent service and would be prepared to pay a premium for it, whereas 15% of customers were primarily motivated to seek the cheapest prices, even if this meant compromising the quality of customer service.

Causon added: “Organisations that deliver sustained, long-term success are those with a strategic leadership commitment to customer service across the whole customer experience. As the economy moves into growth, there is a temptation to prioritise a short-term boost in customer numbers; but the evidence from UKCSI demonstrates that only a consistent focus on the customer experience will enable organisations to adapt to changing customer expectations and achieve sustainable success.” 

Organisation  UKCSI score July 2014  UKCSI score July 2013 
John Lewis  87.7  90.8
Amazon  87.6  89.0
First Direct  86.3  87.2
Tesco Mobile  85.8  82.6
Marks & Spencer - Food  85.6  86.7
Waitrose  85.0  88.5
Specsavers  84.4  No score
Aldi  84.2  86.2
Next  84.0  82.2
Nationwide  83.5  83.7
The Co-operative Bank  83.5  86.7

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