Customer Insight

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UKCSI July 2021

By Sarah Stainthorpe, Client Manager, TLF Research

The UKCSI is an independent, national benchmark of customer satisfaction published each January and July across 13 sectors of the UK, conducted by The Institute of Customer Service. The UKCSI measures customers’ experiences and relationships with organisations on 26 metrics which are based on customer priorities. For over a decade it has provided us with a biannual snapshot of how UK consumers are feeling.

Latest Headline Results

The latest UKCSI report was released at the beginning of July 2021. Here are some of the highlights. The full report, published by The Institute, is available to download free on their website: instituteofcustomerservice.com/ukcsi

For more detail, including scores for all named organisations, it is also possible to purchase in-depth reports on each sector.

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) is 77.4 (out of 100), 0.4 points higher than in July 2020 and 0.6 points above the January 2021 UKCSI.

14.9% of customers experienced a problem with an organisation, the highest rate since 2009 but satisfaction with complaint handling is at its highest ever level.

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The Public Services National, Retail (Non-food) and Telecommunications and Media sectors have each improved by at least 1 point, compared to July 2020. Average customer satisfaction in the Public Services (Local) sector fell by 1.6 points.

The Retail (Non-food) sector has improved by 1.2 points to 81.2 and is the highest rated sector.

Public Services (National) has also risen by 1.2 points, to 77.3, its highest ever score.

The Telecommunications and Media sector is 1 point higher than a year ago and like Public Services (National) has registered its highest ever score.

Within the Transport sector, average satisfaction for experiences with Rail and Coach / Bus companies improved by 2.4 and 1.3 points respectively. But average satisfaction with Airlines is 70.5, 3.8 points lower than in July 2020.

first direct, John Lewis and amazon.co.uk are the highest rated organisations. They are the only organisations who were also rated amongst the top 10 in July 2020.

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Customer experience during the Covid-19 crisis

Overall customer satisfaction was higher for experiences recorded in spring 2021 than for those in autumn 2020.

The customer data used in the July 2021 UKCSI is based on survey fieldwork collected between 14 September and 12 October 2020 and between 8 March and 6 April 2021. Therefore, the latest UKCSI data was collected after the return of strict lockdown measures in large parts of the UK from 31 December 2020 and before the re-opening of non-essential retail on 12 April 2021.

Evidence from the latest UKCSI data shows that average customer satisfaction for experiences recorded in March and April 2021 was 78.2 (out of 100), 1.6 points higher than those recorded in the previous period (September – October 2020).

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The Transport and Tourism sectors show the biggest improvement in overall customer satisfaction, when comparing data for customer experiences recorded in March – April 2021 and September – October 2020.

27% of customers have experienced a change in customer service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Customers who have experienced a positive change in service during Covid-19 are slightly more satisfied than those who have seen no change. But customers who have experienced a negative change in service are much less satisfied than other customers.

Average customer satisfaction index scores (out of 100)

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The main positive changes in customer experience during the pandemic are better scheduling of appointments, support to improve well-being, and proactive communications. 49% of customers who experienced a new idea or improvement said they were more likely to buy from that organisation in future. 24% of customers feel that organisations have sometimes used the Covid-19 situation as an excuse for lower levels of service.

The Institute conclude their review of the state of customer satisfaction in the UK by reflecting on key lessons for organisations from the Covid-19 pandemic and implications for customer experience;

  1. In the context of Covid-19, organisational purpose is even more critical to success
  2. Combining the best of digital and human interactions to design experiences around customer needs
  3. Developing a blend of digital, interpersonal, applications development and customer experience skills 
  4. Complaint handling is essential to reduce customer dissatisfaction but is not enough to drive further improvements in satisfaction and engagement
  5. Environmental and social impact are increasingly relevant to an organisation’s customer proposition
  6. Proactive communication and engagement to maintain and develop trust
  7. Developing flexibility and innovation to respond to change and create opportunities
  8. Customer satisfaction and employee engagement have become important measures of corporate governance
  9. A long-term focus on customer service to enable sustained business performance
  10. Learning the lessons from Covid-19 to prepare better for future shocks
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