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May 01, 2008

U.K. To Measure Consumer Satisfaction



By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor


Measuring customer satisfaction is an important aspect for any company and/or call center. The challenge is how to adequately capture their perception and put it into usable reports. In the United Kingdom, consumers are ready to voice their opinions and a service is put in place to listen.


Roughly 12,000 people will voice how happy or disgruntled they are through the U.K. Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service. These consumers will complete the bi-annual online questionnaire and rank organizations across 12 major sectors based on their service skills, creating an overall rating showing how they are being served.

Set to be issued on July 5, the results will rank the best and worst companies, list the top organizations per sector and rank companies with the most loyalty, referrals and repeat business in this national measure of customer satisfaction and its impact on the economic health of the U.K.

Run by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), the poll seeks to raise national customer service standards by contrasting the reality of front-line service in retail, banks, airlines, utilities, councils, hairdressers and others. 

As the U.K.’s customer service standards-setting body, the ICS expects the results will show that customers want more professionalism, better problem solving and complaints resolution, more efficiency and speed and organizations that are more easy to deal with.

Robert Crawford, ICS director, said in a company statement: "This Index gives customers insights on the better players, helps companies to benchmark against the best and keeps board directors on their toes.”

”I’m predicting that the best will get better and the worst will cling to bad habits: keeping customers dangling on the line or in the dark, being too quick to dismiss consumers with gripes and paying lip service to service. Last time the average satisfaction was 69 out of 100, but the best scored 90 and the lowest just 52," said Crawford.

"The U.K. Customer Satisfaction Index is unique in its scale, its detail and its cross sector comparisons. A budget airline can learn from John Lewis about a mindset that costs little. Governments and economists are using the findings to predict growth, with customer satisfaction a major factor in consumer spending as two thirds of U.K. GDP comes from consumer spending," Crawford added.

Loyalty results are especially critical to a company as they give strong indication as to the stability and profitability of the company. And, as Crawford pointed out, it costs the company ten times as much to win a new customer as it does to retain one that you already have.

Graham Clarke, director of executive MBA programs at Cranfield School of Management said in a statement: "This is a good way to objectively assess the state of customer service in UK businesses and the public sector. It provides evidence for the link between service and competitiveness."

Sectors measured include retail, automotive, insurance houses, banks, leisure and tourism, transport, utilities, telecom, local government and government departments and agencies. It compares satisfaction levels in regions and pits England against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As companies continue to intensely compete for the consumer dollar, it is imperative that they focus on the quality of customer service they deliver. As the contact and call center is often that first point of service, it is critical that the enterprise equip their centers with the proper tools and training to deliver the best possible customer experience

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

 

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