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Five star First Direct tops customer service poll

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26th Nov 2010
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First Direct has topped a Which? survey of 75 big UK brands after getting five out of five stars for all areas of customer service.

The telephone and internet bank received a customer service rating of 89% for, among other things, making customers feel valued, dealing effectively with problems and product knowledge.

Next on the list was John Lewis, followed by its supermarket chain Waitrose, which gained scores of 86% and 85% respectively. One of John Lewis’s satisfied customers described it as "a model of customer service".

Bottom of the list, however, with a rating of only 44%, was AOL Broadband. One unhappy customer said the company had "no concept of the meaning of customer service". It was closely followed by fellow broadband provider TalkTalk and the bank Santander, both of which scored a mere 45%.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "Offering good customer service should be a priority for any business – it beggars belief that so many big name brands still fail to grasp such a basic concept."

A report undertaken by the TM Forum, an industry association for the information, communications and entertainment sectors, found, meanwhile, that improving the customer experience should be associated less with altruism and more with boosting the bottom line.

The Forum’s managing director Rob Rich said: "While growth by acquisition increases overall revenues, it often creates tremendous challenges for profitability. Organic growth through increased customer loyalty and retention is a more effective driver of profit as well as a stronger predictor of future profitability."

The study entitled ‘Exploiting Analytics’ indicated that customer analytics could be used to predict customer lifetime value, which could, in turn, be employed across the customer lifecycle to boost both the customer experience and individual’s profitability.

Other important factors in creating a positive customer experience, however, included top management support, strong programme governance and effective customer data management.

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