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Customer satisfaction levels plateau in the UK - report

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21st Jul 2013
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Customer service appears to be at a standstill as latest figures from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) has shown brands could be doing more to improve service and satisfy customers.

The latest bi-annual Customer Satisfaction (UKCSI) report, based on 30,000 consumer responses from at least 9,000 individual customers, showed that customer service has now plateaued at 77.9 out of 100 dropping by only 0.3 points from 78.2 from the last index in January 2013.

Previously, the figures showed a trend of consistent increase in satisfaction between January 2009 and July 2012. According to the ICS, the long term trend shows that after a series of steady increases since UKCSI began in 2008, growth in customer satisfaction has slowed.

In terms of top performers, John Lewis retained its crown for best customer service with a score of 90.8 – a slight decrease from its score of 92.3 in January. Waitrose and first direct have also consistently performed very strongly since the UKCSI was launched in 2008 whilst others such as Aldi, Iceland and Honda have seen a more recent growth in satisfaction, said the report.

Overall, retail non-food and retail food continue to be the top performing sectors, with scores of 84.4 and 81.6 respectively whilst the utilities industry is the bottom ranked sector, with a score of 71, its lowest since 2010.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the ICS said: “Despite some strong performances over the last six months, the fact that UK customer satisfaction has levelled off suggests that organisations could be doing more to improve their customer service. 

“In a fast-paced, recessionary world, consumers have become increasingly discerning and more willing to act if they experience poor service. As a result, those dynamic organisations that are adapting to changing customer needs are continuing to out-perform their competitors. 

“The success of both established brands with a reputation for service, as well as more recent challengers, demonstrates that customer service is a key differentiator that enables organisations to respond in tough economic conditions.”

And it appears more essential than ever that brands focus on improving their service offering. Earlier this year, the ICS showed that whilst the overall number of problems faced by consumers when buying goods or services has fallen, consumers are complaining more than ever.

The research showed that people-related issues such as staff attitude and competence caused the majority (62%) of problems eliciting a complaint whilst the quality or reliability of goods and services accounted for just a third (34%) of complaints.

Causon said of the findings: “Our research suggests that customers are most satisfied when complaints are dealt with immediately. As a result, organisations need to ensure that all customer contacts are handled consistently well, and that customers are not passed from pillar to post.”

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