Taking a closer look at the state of customer satisfaction in the UK.
Route 101 reviewed the July UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UK CSI), produced by The Institute of Customer Service. Here are some of the key points you should know:
First things first - what is the UK CSI?
The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UK CSI) is a bi-annual report which has been produced by The Institute of Customer Service since 2008. It’s based on an online survey of over 10,000 consumers, who are representative of the UK adult population by region, age, and gender. The report is intended to reflect the state of customer satisfaction in the UK.
Customers are asked to rate their experiences of dealing with a specific organisation in the previous 3 months, over 25 metrics including employee professionalism, product/service quality, complaint handling, and more. These metrics are designed to reflect the priorities identified by customers as well as attributes that show a strong relationship with overall customer satisfaction. The UKCSI also includes measures of customer effort and a Net Promoter Score (NPS).
The July 2021 UKCSI includes 45,000 responses from surveys conducted between 14 September to 12 October 2020 and 8 March to 6 April 2021.
Customer Satisfaction in the UK
Overall customer satisfaction was higher for experiences recorded in spring 2021 than for those in autumn 2020. Whilst 14.9% of customers experienced a problem with an organisation, the highest rate since 2009, satisfaction with complaint handling it at its highest ever level.
Evidence from the UKCSI shows that the ability to speak to the right person to help is the leading issue customers want organisations to improve. Customers are also keen to see organisations improve their website navigation, and ensure staff are more helpful and knowledgeable.
The research reaffirms the need for businesses to focus on all dimensions of customer satisfaction; the critical importance of accessibility and ease of contact, complaint handling and the benefits of reducing the extent of problems experienced by customers
Covid-19 and the Customer Experience
In the context of Covid-19, purpose has arguably become even more critical to organisations’ success. Many organisations face difficult choices about where and how to focus in order to meet commercial, customer or social objectives.
The main positive changes in customer experience during the pandemic are better scheduling of appointments, support to improve well-being, and proactive communications.
Customers’ changing channel use and the models of working and collaboration that have developed during the pandemic have highlighted the importance of basic and intermediate digital skills. For the first time, 50% of the customer experiences recorded in the UKCSI were digital (on an organisation’s website or via email, web chat, text, or social media).
Covid-19 has also accentuated the importance of empathy and interpersonal skills in relationships with customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Human intervention is especially important when empathy, judgement or discretion is required, for example:
- Where a customer needs advice about different options
- A customer is experiencing a sudden change in circumstances or a challenging life event, such as moving house, bereavement, change in employment status
- Where an organisation has failed to meet commitments, or a problem has occurred
- Experiences that have high personal importance for customers
Changing Customer Service as a Result of Covid 19
27% of customers have experienced a change in customer service during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 50% of these customers said the change was positive; 24% said it was negative.
Customers in the Tourism, Retail, Insurance, Leisure and Automotive sectors, who reported that the customer service they received had changed because of Covid-19, were the most likely to feel that the change was positive. However, customers in the Telecommunications and Media, Public Services (Local) and Utilities sectors were the most likely to say that they had seen worse customer service because of changes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Changing service could also drive customer loyalty – 49% of customers who experienced a new idea or improvement said they were more likely to buy from that organisation in future.
35% of customers reported that they had experienced stock shortages in their interactions with organisations. At least 25% say they suffered delays with deliveries, had to queue for longer, or found it difficult to contact an organisation.
Perhaps most concerningly, almost a quarter (24%) of customers feel that organisations have sometimes used the Covid-19 situation as an excuse for lower levels of service.
In response to the research published in the July UK CSI, organisations will need to reassess strategically the skills they require, current capabilities and gaps, skills and training programmes and the options to access and disseminate learning. Delivery of training will also need to adapt and flex, using a mix of methods tailored to content, employees’ job roles, working environment, operational needs, and access to technology.
The key conclusion drawn in the latest report is that whilst businesses have got much better at dealing with issues when they arise, they have not necessarily got better at preventing them impacting customers in the first place.
Indeed, further improvement in customer satisfaction will require a focus not just on problem solving and complaint handling, but on all dimensions of customer satisfaction and engagement