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Based on the views of 10,000 UK consumers, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) reveals the first significant boost in customer satisfaction since 2012 – rising by 0.8 points to 77, but it is still some way off the 2013 peak of 78.2. Amazon tops the Index, up from second place last year, followed by a newcomer to the index, Utility Warehouse and first direct.  Also in the top ten are Specsavers, New Look and SAGA Insurance, all of whom posted impressive increases of more than three points over the past 12 months. This year’s UKCSI top 50 is more competitive than ever with only 5.7 points between the first placed organisation and the 50th, compared to 7.5 points last year. In other words, customer satisfaction in the utilities sector is improving faster than in any other industry, while banks and building societies have stalled.

Changing customer priorities

This year’s focus on customer priorities reveals that employee attitude and behaviour is much more important to customers now than five years ago. The condition of delivered goods and speed of response in writing still matter, but to a lesser degree than in previous years. Employees ‘doing what they say they will do’ and competence on the phone were the next most important priorities for customers. Helpfulness of employees rose from 21st to fourth in the rankings while friendliness of employees and ease of doing business are also rising on the index of customer priorities.

Confidence breeds custom

The importance of trust is emphasised again in this year’s results.  Organisations that have the highest levels of trust and customer satisfaction, scoring nine or ten out of ten, are more likely to encourage customer loyalty and recommendations. The January 2016 UKCSI also identifies how companies should interpret the use of different channels and platforms of communication by customers. The research shows that those using more than two channels more likely to be unhappy with the service they receive. Organisations monitoring this could act as an early warning to organisations proactively deal with issues before unhappy customers share their experience more widely.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, says: “Core ingredients of excellent customer service – employee competence, attitudes and behaviour – have become even more significant differentiators.  Mass marketing or a ‘one size fits all’ customer experience is delivering diminishing returns and diluting valuable customer relationships. The insight we have gathered from this UKCSI identifies the components of excellent service and where strategic and operational effort should be focused to make further improvements.” He also adds: “While the multi-channel environment demanded by customers has the potential to offer a faster more flexible service, it can also exacerbate problems if not done correctly. Challenger brands, often unencumbered by legacy systems and processes are gaining on their larger competitors by offering straightforward, personal, seamless and quick better experience.

This article was originally published in http://www.businesszone.co.uk/

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