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Latest customer satisfaction report highlights key trends for customer service and experience professionals
Customer satisfaction

Six UKCSI trends that highlight where customer satisfaction is being won and lost


The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service reveals a number of CX quick-wins for big brands. 

2nd Aug 2021
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The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service is arguably one of the most telling since its inception, in 2008.  

Published in early July, the findings reveal a number of trends that should serve as clear indicators for where businesses can focus their CX priorities in the coming months.  

1. Upgrade your digital presence NOW

The key trend from the latest UKCSI showed that 50% of customer experiences reported were online. This is the highest amount ever recorded within the report. Also, 30% of customers made more purchases online than they did six months previously. This is not too surprising as the coronavirus pandemic has led to many companies transitioning to online sales and operations.

However, one of the top issues customers want organisations to improve is better website navigation. As more customers are online, it’s the perfect time for companies to reimagine, redesign and upgrade their online presence. There should be a focus on making company websites easy to use, visually appealing and helpful

Companies should also audit their overall online presence to see where improvements can be made to their various platforms. A great example here is Ralph Lauren. The company upgraded their digital presence and online customer experience resulting in a phenomenal hike in sales growth and customer acquisitions.

2. Good isn’t good enough

Customers are looking for brands who can deliver faultless customer experiences with little or no hassle. Organisations with a score of either 9/10 or 10/10 for overall satisfaction were rated much higher on trust, transparency, recommendation and loyalty compared with companies who scored 8/10 or even 8.9/10.

The modern-day customer has high standards and expectations from their service providers. Providing good compared with excellent customer experiences makes a big difference in a person’s positive emotional connection to a company. Good is no longer good enough.

Companies should be taking regular surveys, gleaning feedback from their customers and analysing the results. This data should be used to improve the customer journey and customer satisfaction scores. Sometimes just a small tweak in how things are done can make a huge difference.

3. Improvement end-to-end

A key highlight from the UKCSI is the commonalities between high scoring companies and lower scoring companies. Companies ranked higher for customer satisfaction achieved high scores on all measures. Also, more people rated their experience as being right the first time and fewer experienced a problem. Equally, those with a lower overall score had lower satisfaction scores across various measures. Furthermore, less people rated their experience as being right the first time and more experienced a problem.

Organisations should prioritise improving all areas of their operations. Companies with a culture of delivering excellence in one area tend to have excellence in all areas. Those less focussed on excellence tend to have lower standards throughout the whole company.

To resolve this, executive leaders should take time out of their company to troubleshoot areas of weakness. Customer and employee experience programs should be implemented to improve customer satisfaction, employee engagement and service standards.

4. Satisfaction leads to business growth

According to the report, the top three organisations for overall customer satisfaction are:

  1. First Direct
  2. John Lewis
  3. Amazon

The pandemic has resulted in more consumers reducing their spending. Despite this, the top 3 organisations for customer satisfaction have either seen sales growth or healthy customer retention. First Direct have been in profit every year since 1995, John Lewis recently reported 10.7 billion in revenue and Amazon are the world’s largest online retailer. This shows a clear link between great CX and business longevity, sales growth and overall success.

If you’re still not convinced, the UKCSI found strong evidence in the food retailer industry to support this theory.

Aldi is the highest rated food retailer for customer satisfaction. Its UKCSI score of 83.3 is 2.9 points above the sector average and its sales increased by an impressive 6.6%. Waitrose is the sector’s most improved organisation for customer satisfaction compared to July 2020. Its UKCSI score increased by 3.7 points to 81.9 and its sales grew by 5%.

Customer experience should be implemented into a company’s strategic planning alongside sales, marketing and employee retention. There is a continual trend emerging of large organisations hiring a Chief Customer Experience Officer. This really is an integral investment for any company looking to flourish over the coming years. Appointing a senior person to analyse, measure and improve CX will impact a company’s bottom line in a positive way.

5. Proactive expectations

As a result of the pandemic, 27% of customers reported a change in customer service. 50% said the change was positive and 24% said it was negative. Positive changes included support to improve mental, physical or financial wellbeing and proactive communication.

Customers are proving to be very observant and can feel when there have been improvements or a dip in customer experience. The report highlights the importance of learning from the impact of COIVID to be prepared for future unexpected events. A good way to prepare is by analysing how your organisation has dealt with the pandemic. What has gone well and what could be done better?

The modern-day customer appreciates proactive communication. Organisations should continue on with this trend as it demonstrates empathy, consideration and an extra effort towards delighting and caring for customers. Proactive communication can be in the form of blog posts, emails or even letters. Whatever you choose, ensure to add value to your customers. Think about helpful newsletters, additional app features or maybe mental wellness tips.

49% said the improvement in service made them more likely to use the organisation in the future. Creating proactive communication is definitely worth the time and effort and is likely to result in higher rates of customer retention.

6. Continuous Professional Development

The top issues customers want organisations to improve included more friendly and knowledgeable staff.

This highlights the key role customer service agents play in the overall customer journey. The contact centre plays a major role in the perception customers have of an organisation.

Customer service reps need to be highly knowledgeable with impeccable communications skills. To achieve this, all customer-facing teams should have opportunities for continuous professional development (CPD). Agents should have access to training on the following topics: professional communication, problem solving, working well under pressure, delivering excellent service – the list goes on.

It’s no longer enough to train a person once when they start their job. Training should be a continuous practice and embedded into a company’s culture.

Managers of customer facing teams should have the coaching skills and tools to train their team and plug any technical knowledge gaps. This is even more crucial as many contact centres are now working remotely and therefore have less contact with their managers.

In closing, the UKCSI provides a valuable insight into what the modern-day customer is looking for from their product and service providers. A few things are clear, the future is digital, customers appreciate valuable content and they want to speak to a friendly and knowledgeable agent.

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