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UK Customer Satisfaction Falls For The Second Year

  • Consumers are less satisfied with their customer experience now than they were in January 2011
  • Only ten organisations in the top fifty have improved on their performance since July 2013
  • John Lewis and Amazon came top of the survey of nearly 10,000 consumers
  • In every sector, there are examples of organisations that have defied the overall trend and improved their customer satisfaction
  • People most likely to be dissatisfied with levels of customer service are from younger age-groups

The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), which surveys nearly 10,000 consumers, reveals that satisfaction has continued to fall leaving people more unhappy with their customer experience now than they were in January 2011, a major concern for organisations as the economy begins to grow.

John Lewis and Amazon top the index again, exchanging positions this year as the online retailer drops to second place. Of the index’s top ten organisations with the highest levels of customer satisfaction, only Tesco Mobile, Next and Center Parcs have shown improvement 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.

In every sector there is a range of customer satisfaction scores, including examples of organisations that have defied the overall trend and improved their customer satisfaction. In fact, some of the organisations which have registered the biggest improvements in satisfaction are in sectors that have lower than the UK average satisfaction, such as Transport and Utilities. Eight organisations in the top fifty have improved on their performance since July 2013, by at least one point.

Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, commented:

“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.”

Causon adds: “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.”

For the first time, UKCSI investigates levels of satisfaction by age group and reveals 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. 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.

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

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