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UK Customer Satisfaction Falls for the Second Year, warning organisations to maintain focus on customer experience to achieve sustainable growth

  •  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.

UKCSI, commissioned by the Institute of Customer Service, takes its results from more than 40,000 individual customer experiences. It is the UK’s largest and most comprehensive survey of customer satisfaction and the only one carried out by a not-for-profit organisation.

About the Institute of Customer Service

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers’ experience and their own business performance.

The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 400 organisational members – from the private, public and third sectors – and over 5,000 individual memberships.

For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to:

UK Customer Satisfaction Index

UKCSI (UK Customer Satisfaction Index) is the national measure of customer satisfaction. It is based on an online survey of consumers, geographically and demographically representative of the UK population.

The UKCSI began in January 2008 and is published twice a year, normally January and July. The Index covers 13 sectors – 11 in the private sector as well as local and national public services. Sector reports giving a detailed breakdown of scores by sector and organisation are available.

Customers are asked to rate organisations on customer priorities that they have identified as important. Priorities are grouped in terms of professionalism; quality and efficiency; ease of doing business; problem solving and timeliness. Each priority is given a weighted score. The weighted satisfaction scores are used to produce the index.

Customers score their responses for each measure on a 1-to-10 scale. Overall scores for each sector are mean averages of all responses. The overall UKCSI score for each organisation is the average of all of its customers’ satisfaction scores, weighted for each question grouping.

The July 2014 UKCSI includes 40,842 unique responses. 9,522 customers have been surveyed. Customers are geographically and demographically representative of the UK population and participate in the survey through an online panel. Customers are asked to provide a score for organisations based on their most recent transaction.

197 individual organisations received a UKCSI rating. Only organisations that exceed a minimum sample size are scored in the 13 sector reports. In addition, scores are given for 16 generic providers including “your local NHS / Hospital”, “your local Council”, “your local restaurant” etc.

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