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Customer complaints reach their highest ever

Latest Customer Satisfaction Index shows further increase in complaints

The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) released its bi-annual UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) survey today (5 July 2022). 10,000 consumers across 13 industry sectors were surveyed on their customer service experience and the impact this has on business. The results show that 17.3% of UK customers have experienced a product or service problem over the past year. This is the highest level since their records began in 2008! In January of this year (2022) the UKCSI report said that 16.4% of consumers said that they had experienced a problem with a company in the previous year.

The ICS has calculated that this rise in customer service problems and complaints is costing businesses £9.24bn in staff hours, as they spend more time trying to resolve issues.

The UKCSI report states that “The external environment is tough for organisations and customers alike, with global supply chain issues and local skills shortages impacting on their ability to deliver a consistent customer experience.” Whilst this may be true, businesses should examine where they are putting their resources. It is widely believed that it costs between 5 and 10 times more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Companies should pay attention to these findings. With it costing at least 5 times as much to gain a new customer as it does to retain one, it is a very ignorant, arrogant, naïve or complacent company that does not pay attention to the value of good customer service.

The UKCSI report also notes that there “has been an increase in the number of problems relating to the quality/reliability of goods and services (42.8%) and suitability of goods/services (26.4%).” and goes on to comment “Despite a rise in those experiencing problems, the trend for improved complaint handling continues to improve, but there needs a shift away from ‘service recovery’ to identifying and addressing the root cause of issues.”

UK Power Networks won top place on the customer satisfaction table. Their speedy resolutions and compensation pay outs to customers due to Storms Eunice and Franklin in the Spring of 2022 show how getting it right for customers brings benefits for companies. Customers said that they trusted the company due to it “… being open and transparent, having helpful and competent people and [having] an easy-to-use website.”

Despite increasing financial pressures, more than one third (35%) of customers said that they would be prepared to pay more to guarantee excellent service. In January of this year this figure was at 34%, an increase of 4.5% compared to the previous year. This is yet more of a reason for businesses to increase investment in customer service.

Jo Causon, CEO at The Institute of Customer Service, said:

”Many businesses are already struggling to deliver consistent levels of service hampered by staff shortages, supply issues and geopolitical upheaval. Organisations cannot avoid these issues. They will need to develop service strategies that are responsive to evolving customer needs but also protect short and long-term business performance.

UK business is suffering from a loss of productivity owing to the time spent resolving customer complaints and service failures. For me it’s clear that a carefully calibrated focus on service is crucial to boosting performance and addressing the broader challenges of societal polarisation, inclusivity and wellbeing.”

Complaints at all time high BBC Breakfast

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UK Customer Service Satisfaction Index report July 2022

By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

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