For eight years now, The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) has published a Customer Satisfaction Index, looking at how happy people in the UK are with the services offered in sectors such as banking, utilities, travel, food and leisure, and how easy it is to have any complaints dealt with.
Interestingly, after a period of decline in satisfaction, this month has seen an upturn, though the ICS believes some companies are still struggling to adapt and compete on service.
But when it comes to giving people choice, I believe there is still cause for concern. As a businesswoman myself, I know how important customer relations are, and the Index’s research shows how success can depend on the quality of a company’s relationships with customers.
Achieving a rating of nine out of ten means customers are much more likely to trust, recommend and stay with the supplier. As it becomes easier to switch current accounts or energy supplier, it makes business sense to keep customers happy – 96% of those who gave their supplier 9/10 would be loyal, the research shows.
Another recent study in the US showed 43% of customers had a higher level of satisfaction with utility companies that offered a choice of how to receive bills - including paper - warning that companies using tactics such as setting the default for new customers to paperless delivery or automatically registering customers who pay online to receive their bills electronically risked a customer backlash. Interestingly, the area where the index shows customers are most satisfied is Wales – I can’t prove it, but I wonder if there is a link to the fact that two very large service suppliers – Principality Building Society and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water – have adopted Keep Me Posted’s pledge to protect customer choice? I’d certainly like to think so!
Keeping paper as a choice for receiving bills and statements is one way to a customer’s heart - and loyalty. It’s about time companies woke up to the fact that offering consumers this choice isn’t just the right and fair thing to do – it also makes good business sense!
Chair, Keep Me Posted