The October issue of consumer magazine Which? includes the results of a survey of more than 3,500 UK consumers which reveals the 100 best and worst brands for customer service.
First Direct bank is the top-rated brand for customer service in the UK, while energy giant Npower takes last place. Which? says the survey ‘shines a light on how brands across the retail, banking, telecoms, energy and travel industries treat customers, in isolation from the value for money they offer or the quality of the products or services they supply’.
Each brand was rated on making its customers feel valued, knowledge of products and services, helpfulness of staff, resolving complaints or problems, and access to customer support. Respondents were also asked to give each brand an overall rating out of 10 for customer service, which is where the customer service score comes from.
With a customer service score of 87%, First Direct is joined in the top five by last year’s top-scorer Lush at second place (86%), and department store group John Lewis, housewares chain Lakeland, and Waitrose (winner of the Which? Awards Best Supermarket 2014) Waitrose in joint third position with 83% each.
Respondents were also asked for their top 10 customer service gripes. The number one bugbear is an automated telephone system, followed by being passed around between different departments, and annoying ‘hold’ music.
For high street shops, the focus is on getting face-to-face service right. A major frustration is when staff are too busy chatting to each other to help their customers. John Lewis, Lakeland and Lush have plenty of staff who are ready to help, according to the customers surveyed.
Rude staff and long queues were also cited, along with staff trying to sell customers’ unwanted products and staff with a lack of knowledge about products. ‘Standard responses to problems’ was another complaint. Which? said that in the comments provided by respondents, one indicator of amazing customer service came up again and again: if something goes wrong, fix it and make it even better.
Lakeland is given an example of a retailer who went above and beyond in this area for a customer who lived far from the store: ‘I got home with a purchase to find out that two replacement filters were missing. As it’s a 35-mile round trip to the shop, I rang them and they put the filters, plus an extra four, in the post and I had them the next day’.
A total of 3,621 members of the UK public were surveyed in May/June about the big brands they had interacted with in the past 12 months – face-to-face or by email, telephone or social media.