The recession has had a galvanising effect on customer service, according to the findings of the latest UK Customer Service Index (UKCSI), with the retail sector setting the standard on the back of strong Christmas trading.
Compiled by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), the UKCSI reveals that the retail sector steadily improved its customer service standards throughout the recession, topping the Index ahead of the tourism industry and consumers services.
However, utilities, telecomes and public services remained amongst the worst performing sectors.
"It is no coincidence that retail has turned in such a strong performance in the latest UK Customer Service Index - and that we are also seeing a strong set of Christmas trading results from retailers such as John Lewis
," said Jo Causon, chief executive of the ICS.
"The retail sector is intensely competitive and cannot afford to take its eye off the ball when it comes to customer service - especially during the recession, when consumers are careful about where they spend their money, and retailers are having to fight for every penny.
"With growing signs that the UK is coming out of recession, it is vital that retailers maintain this focus on the customer as the UK continues to build a stronger service economy."
In terms of individual companies’ service performance, high street favourites John Lewis and Marks & Spencer
dominate, with John Lewis Partnership taking the top two spots.
Andrew Murphy, director operational development at John Lewis said: "It's great that customers appreciate the service John Lewis Partners provide and this recognition adds to the huge pride we all take from running a business which belongs to us.
"Our aim is always to provide service that is so good and so reliably consistent that customers can have complete faith in our ability to get it right for them, whether for big purchases or for small ones. We're working constantly to improve all aspects of our customer service and have absolutely no intention of resting on our laurels."
The Index is the national measure of customer satisfaction, gauging customer service in the UK by surveying around 26,000 consumers. The overall score across 13 sectors comes in at just over 75 out of 100, up from 69 two years ago and up a point since July 2009.