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Are you satisfied?  Yes, no or maybe?

How satisfied with customer service are you?

The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) published its bi-annual UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) report today, 7 July 2021. It showed that the number of complaints  about poor service in the last six months was at its highest level since 2009! The Institute surveyed 10,000 people.

The report said that the sectors with the biggest issues were transport, local public services – such as GP surgeries, councils and police services, and telecommunications. A quarter of those asked said that some organisations had used COVID as an excuse for poor service.

Long COVID in customer service?

The public is getting tired of companies using COVID as a reason for poor service. There is no excuse for it now. Companies have had long enough to get their act together and iron out any problems with working from home, for example.

The report covered the average customer satisfaction for experiences based on survey fieldwork collected between 14 September and 12 October 2020 and between 8 March and 6 April 2021. This was 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.

The ICS gave these headlines:

  • The July 2021 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) is 77.4 (out of 100), 0.4 points higher than in July 2020
  • 14.9% of customers experienced a problem with an organisation, the highest rate since 2009. But satisfaction with complaint handling it at its highest ever level
  • For the first time, 50% of the customer experiences recorded in the UKCSI were digital
  • The Public Services (National), Retail (Non-food) and Telecommunications and Media sectors have each improved by at least 1 point but Public Services (Local) has declined by more than 1 point
  • 272 organisations or organisation types received a UKCSI score.
    first direct, John Lewis and are the highest rated organisations”

The devil is in the detail

However, companies of all sizes would do well to read the report and note some of the details. The report includes details of another survey which ran alongside the UKCSI. This survey showed the results of asking over 1,000 customers about the changes in quality of service they had experienced during the latest phase of the pandemic:

“49% of customers who experienced a new idea or improvement said they were more likely to buy from that organisation in future”

This demonstrates yet again how important customer service is in business.

Would you get 49% of customers coming back from your marketing budget at a much greater cost than improving customer service and not fobbing people off?! No, of course not. Yet businesses still don’t invest in customer service, choosing instead to undervalue the merit of doing the right thing by their customers.

Voting with their feet

Sectors such as tourism and transport have apparently seen the biggest improvement between autumn 2020 and spring 2021. However, less tourism and less transport would logically see fewer complaints as fewer people travelled! In addition, a number of companies were delaying refunds that did eventually pay up by the spring 2021.

Such research on the statistics should be approached with some caution as to how much they are skewed by an increase in online sales and reduction in travel and other sectors. What is clear, is that customer service needs to be improved across the board. As we hopefully come out of this pandemic, consumers are becoming less tolerant of poor service and will vote with their feet.

Good service means loyal customers

Certainly companies have a long way to go in improving service quality. It came as no surprise to see telecoms at the bottom of the table for customer service. Regardless of the research or report, the telecoms sector always comes out badly. Is it complacency, ignorance, arrogance or a combination of all three? All companies, but especially telecoms need to understand that investing in customer service has clear benefits. With it costing at least 5 times as much to gain a new customer as to retain one, companies of all sizes would be wise to pay more attention to existing customers than attracting new ones.

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

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Further information for consumers

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

All you need to know to make a complaint about energy

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For more help, advice, tips, information and templates buy  How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


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The Complaining Cow v Tesco CEO & Executive Team

Oh hello, here for another Tesco story? Well, as followers of this blog know well, Tesco and me? Well we have history shall we say. 🙂 🙂 🙂  The very first blog post was complaining about Tesco. Then there was taking them to court, insects in rice, milk bottles versus cola bottles and then my opinion on why Clarke had to go. Then I met the new chappie, Dave Lewis. Liked him, he bought a hundred of my books (at full price, take that Amazon) for his board and most senior people (time will tell if I continue to like him, he hardly had a difficult act to follow and there’s so much to do) and he invited me back to meet some of the team and have lunch.


3 course meal cooked by the senior development chef  Pat Clifford thank you very much, was very good indeed. Guess who was always the last to finish each course because they had the most to say?!

Dave Lewis Lunch Menu v2

I know you don’t want to download the menu but that thing came up and I don’t know how to get rid of it!


Apparently I am one of Tesco’s most engaged (with them, I don’t have a collection of rings) customers. So who else has had so many dealings with Tesco? Oh, ah, hmmmm. Moving swiftly on….what a jolly nice day out. Couple of hours of giving my opinions again. Fabulous. Can’t remember half of what I said, but here are a few things, as I also shared what many of you complained to me about Tesco that are being/will be addressed…..

  1. All those flipping pieces of paper and coupons you have at the till – they are looking at trying to improve that.
  2. Checkout assistants shouldn’t be asking us if we want carrier bags, just leave them there we aren’t going to take more than we need!
  3. There may be very few of us who are this daft, but you know when you do your shopping online and you order 10 kg bags of carrots or 10 punnets of fruit when you meant 10 single pieces? Told them they need to have something that comes up, “Did you mean to do that?” You can either tell it yes you did thank you very much or cry out your much over used expletive of choice and correct it.
  4. Told them that their triple chocolate cookies from the bakery are good but aren’t as good as Sainsbury’s.
  5. Tell us why something is coming up as not in stock online and the system is suggesting you have this alternative, particularly when it is more expensive!
  6. Wine by the case site as well as Tesco grocery site – don’t put bottles of wine that are out of stock in the offers. That. Really. Annoys me.
  7. Going to be back to chat to the woman in charge of community stuff – too right that will be a few hours with both work hats on!
  8. Sorting out the shelves, one of the most common complaints I hear about Tesco, stuff not on the shelves (or in the freezer)
  9. Improve communications between the social media team and customer service
  10. You’ll like this one. Customer opinions on new products. Did you know that no product goes on the shelves without a bunch of people of people testing and giving their opinions on it? No, nor did I. Did you know that they were looking for loads more people? No, nor did I. Would you ignore such a request? No, nor would I. So, instead of rambling on here even more than usual, I have asked Helen (no, not me I don’t write like that) to write a guest blog post. Coming soon a post about what is involved and how to get on the programme. You’re welcome 🙂

There was some other stuff but that’s commercially sensitive so you’ll have to wait 😛

The guide dog issue

Remember this story? The staff who told the woman she wasn’t allowed the guide dog in the store? Tesco was reported as having given £5,000 to charity and put training in place and that was it. I wasn’t going anywhere without addressing this story and as those of you who follow the blog know, I’m harsh but always fair. (I even thank Tesco in my book for providing such diabolical service which resulted in providing great material for the blog which gained so much interest it encouraged me to write the thing!)

Why on earth would you need to train someone that guide dogs are ok in stores? When the staff didn’t grow up in the UK and they have no knowledge or understanding of guide dogs (or hearing dogs etc.)

I was also going to go into one about how typical of Tesco it was to throw £5k at the problem and run away and why didn’t they buy a dog.  Tesco has bought a puppy. It takes 50k from breeding through training to retirement to pay for a guide dog and they have done that. Due to be born in January I believe.


Gotta laugh – the cheque for the books had been made payable to “The Complaining Cow”. Don’t actually have an account in that name… hands up all those hoping I don’t get paid so I take them to court again?


Who doesn’t love presents? Look what I was given to go home with –

I always say reward your complainers - they increase your profits!
I always say reward your complainers – they increase your profits!

Lots of the Tesco finest range but didn’t include my favourite chocolate truffles (ungrateful cow), included an 8 portion luxury Xmas pud (loathe! But OH very pleased) mince pies, chocolate, tea, nuts and cheesy bics.


So Tesco has won me over

How very dare you. I won’t stop complaining to Tesco until there is nothing left to complain about. And anyway the spies at Tesco said that I had tweeted Tesco 519 times. Think it’s slightly more than that now! Social media team has promised me this chocolate (they need to change those ball things to red though!) and alcohol when we reach a 1000 so that’s quite a few more complaints to go. And I leave you with one now. I was working late and tried to get link to those chocolate shoes and couldn’t. Black Friday early hours and couldn’t get onto the site. Sort it out Tesco.


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The Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco gives the links to all the posts old, new and newer than this, covering how it all started, going to court and more.

Case study: Tesco and a consumer champion provides the whole story and should be of interest to you if you fancy improving your service and sales!

Tesco | Complaining Cow meets Dave Lewis and Matt Davies