5 key takeaways from the 2017 Institute of Customer Service UK Customer Satisfaction Index

11 September 2017 by Anita Matthews

The customer is king

According to the latest report from the Institute of Customer Service, customer satisfaction is now at its highest level ever. Sounds good. But customers are continuing to run into problems and customer effort continues to increase. Not so good. Customers now expect more from their relationships with brands, and they expect service across any channel they choose to use.
So how are top brands performing? Amazon.co.uk is the most highly rated organisation for customer satisfaction. First direct, John Lewis, Jet2holidays.com, Subway, Next, Aldi, Greggs, Nationwide, M & S (Bank), The Trainline.com and Superdrug are also amongst the highest regarded organisations.

To help you understand how the market is evolving and how customer behaviour is changing, we’ve summarised the top key points from the latest customer satisfaction index. 

Here are our top 5 takeaways…

#1 Problems, complaints and escalations have increased

13.1% of customers experienced a problem, up from 12.5% in July 2016. The number of customers escalating their complaint has also increased substantially, from 41.4% to 48.6%.

Increasing volume of complaints and escalations
Source: https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/research-insight/research-library/ukcsi-the-state-of-customer-satisfaction-in-the-uk-july-2017

  • The rate of complaining – customers who not only experience a problem but report it to an organisation – has also risen, particularly in the Leisure, Insurance and Public Services (Local) sectors.
  • The number of customers escalating their complaint has also increased substantially, from 41.4% to 48.6%.  The types of problems experienced by customers are relatively consistent with last year, though there have been modest increases in problems related to suitability or availability of goods and services.

#2 Organisations have got better at dealing with complaints but less effective at dealing with problems at source

  • The UKCSI score is at its highest point ever at 78.2, up 0.8 from a year ago.
  • The biggest year on year improvements have come from satisfaction with complaint handling and the number of interactions which customers rate as “right first time”. 
  • However, customer effort, a measure of how much effort customers have to put into dealing with an organisation has risen 0.2 points.

#3 Interactions through digital channels continue to grow

  • Just over a third of customer experiences take place through digital channels.
  • In the Tourism and Utilities sectors, digital experiences account for more than half of all customer interactions.
  • In the Banking, Insurance, Retail (Non-food), Telecommunications & Media and Transport sectors, at least 40% of customer experiences are through digital channels.
  • Digital customers tend to have higher than average satisfaction when making a purchase but lower than average satisfaction when they are making an enquiry.

#4 Nearly a third of customers favour excellent service over no frills

  • 27.4% of customers favour excellent service even if it means paying more, whereas 14.6% always want the cheapest deal, even if it means accepting no frills service.
  • Customers in the Automotive and Tourism sectors are the most likely to prefer a premium service. Utilities and Transport have the highest proportion of customers who prioritise the cheapest deal over service.
  • However, in both these sectors, in excess of 20% of customers say they would be prepared to pay more for excellent service.
  • Younger customers (aged 18 – 44) are more likely than average to prioritise excellent service, especially in the Automotive and Tourism sectors. This could be due to needing more formalised help and advice when making large or complex purchases.

#5 The highest performing organisations achieve strong and consistent satisfaction across all complaint channels

  • Organisations need to enable contact through a range of channels, reflecting their customers’ priorities and preferences.
  • Achieving consistent, easy and integrated experiences across channels will become increasingly important to achieving sustained levels of customer satisfaction.

Want to learn more? Download your free copy of the Institute of Customer Service 2017 UK Customer Satisfaction Index

Room for improvement?

Although the report shows a continued improvement in overall satisfaction levels, it’s clear many customers are still experiencing problems with complaint handling and escalation, both through traditional channels and digital/social channels.

With many customers stating a preference for service quality over price, now is the time to upgrade your social customer service and improve your customer satisfaction levels.

Read our 15 Essential tips for improving social customer service

Download the social customer service guide

Need to manage your social customer service quickly and easily?

Request a demo of the Sentiment platform to find out how Sentiment helps companies of all sizes manage customer service and build profitable relationships with their digital customers.


Tags: complaints, customer satisfaction, Institute of customer service, social customer service