By Sarah Stainthorpe, Client Manager, TLF Research
The UKCSI is the benchmark measure of customer satisfaction across 13 sectors of the UK economy, conducted by The Institute of Customer Service. For over a decade it has provided us with a biannual snapshot of how UK consumers are feeling. The Institute tell us that “The UK Customer Satisfaction Index gives a unique insight into the quality of customer service in your sector. So you can see who’s leading the pack, and how you measure up.”
Latest Headline Results
The latest UKCSI report was released at the end of January 2019. We’ve pulled together some of the highlights. The full report, published by The Institute, is available to download free on their website.
For more detail, including scores for all named organisations, it is also possible to purchase in-depth reports on each sector.
Updated Customer Priorities
In August and September 2018, The Institute undertook some research into customer priorities across the 13 sectors. The January 2019 UKCSI therefore reflects current customer needs, whilst providing a consistent benchmark. The research reaffirmed that customers’ most important stated priorities are for product/ service reliability and quality, employee competence, attitude and helpfulness. However, the new research also highlighted a broader range of emotional and attitudinal attributes that influence relationships and satisfaction with organisations. They include feeling reassured; expectations being met; promises being kept; an organisation’s ethics and the feeling that it designs experiences around the needs of its customers.
Customer Experience Scorecard
In order to reflect both customers’ transactional and relationship needs, The Institute have introduced a customer experience scorecard. The overall customer satisfaction measured by the UKCSI is based on five dimensions: experiences with organisations; and perceptions about an organisation’s customer ethos, ethics and emotional connection.
What is the State of the Nation?
There has been another slight fall in average levels of customer satisfaction The UKCSI is now 77.7, 0.4 points lower than a year ago. Customer satisfaction is at its lowest point since July 2016. In this UKCSI, first direct is the most highly rated organisation for customer satisfaction, followed by John Lewis, M&S (bank), Next and Amazon.co.uk.
Satisfaction by Sector
On the whole, the scores by sector have remained consistent to a year ago. Only three sectors – Insurance, Services and Transport – have moved by more than one point. Insurance has seen an uplift of 1.1 points compared to a year ago, with some of the biggest areas of improvement being for complaint handling and the number of experiences rated as right first time. The declining trend in Transport has continued. Its UKCSI score of 71.8 is 1.9 points lower than a year ago. Customer satisfaction in the Transport sector is at its lowest since July 2009.
What does the UKCSI tell us?
The UKCSI continues to show the importance of customer experience, and the strength of the links between customer satisfaction, loyalty, and market performance. Organisations which consistently outperform their sector show stronger growth and sales, as well as improved levels of trust and reputation. UKCSI should be seen as the best indicator of how good a job UK companies are doing of meeting their customers’ needs. If the slight dip we’ve seen over the last two waves continues then we can expect to see a serious impact on the performance of those organisations who are letting their customers down. As ever, though, some organisations and even some sectors are able to buck the trend, and will reap the rewards of their investment in the customer.
The UKCSI methodology
Twice a year TLF Panel, on behalf of the Institute, conducts an online survey of its nationally-representative panel of UK consumers. Panellists are asked to rate their experiences of a particular organisation they have dealt with in the previous 3 months with the UKCSI score for each company being the average of its customers’ satisfaction scores, and the score for each sector being the average of all customers within that sector. The results for January 2019 are based on 45,000 responses in total, 3,000 from each sector except for Transport and Utilities which are based on 6,000 responses each. The questionnaire is scored by customers on a 1-10 scale.