Honesty and efficiency are the most valued traits by consumers when dealing with companies
Public transport & train operators overtook utility companies in the league table of worst customer experience and service providers, according to the second annual Customer Experience Survey from the service design consultancy Engine.
Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers selected public transport & train operators – narrowly ahead of utilities, which dropped from 40% of votes in 2014 to 31% in 2015. Public services dropped out of the worst three to be replaced by insurance companies (27%), just ahead of broadband & media providers (26%).
At the other end of the spectrum, the retail sector (38%) is judged to provide the best customer service and experience, followed by hotel & hospitality brands (37%) and food service & restaurants (35%).
“Customer experience has a very strong influence on which companies people choose to use,” says Oliver King, co-founder of Engine. “Over the last year, utilities, banking and public services have increasingly focused on this and, as a result, seen the biggest improvement in consumers’ eyes. In contrast, hotels/hospitality co’s and airlines – sectors where people are acutely sensitive to minor flaws in the service – have seen the biggest degradation in people’s regard of their customer experience. These sectors always have to work the hardest in meeting customer expectations.”
Customer experience has the biggest impact in restaurants and retail
Food services/restaurants (cited by 35%), retail (32%) and hotels/hospitality (30%) – the strongest performers – are also the sectors where consumers’ choice of provider is most strongly influenced by the quality of service and customer experience.
King comments: “In choosing where to eat, the customer experience is a much bigger factor for women than men, whilst its importance declines as people get older. In contrast, customer experience becomes a bigger factor with age in where people shop, where they bank and which hotels and airlines they use.
Consumers value honesty and efficiency most highly
Openness/honesty is the most valued trait in the way a company provides its customer service and experience (cited by 49%), followed by efficiency (43%) and reliability (41%). All three of the most valued traits become a bigger factor with age – particularly openness/honesty
“Companies can’t afford to think about what’s important to their ‘average customer’ – that person doesn’t exist,” notes King. “Instead, they need to think of the different customer profiles and tailor the experience accordingly for each one. For instance, older people put greater emphasis on the experience being honest, efficient and reliable, while the younger generation put more store on it being flexible and enjoyable.”
Quality much more of a factor in recommendations than price
The report also reveals that consumers are nearly twice as likely to recommend a brand or company based on the quality of service (62%) than they are on price (35%). This ‘skew’ towards service is even more pronounced for people over 55 (69% vs. 29%).
Why is customer experience important?
Better customer experience leads to increased revenues, greater likelihood of recommendations, process efficiencies and increased retail visits. King explains: “Businesses can more accurately measure the impact that an improved customer experience has on performance. Clients like Virgin Media, Zurich UK and Hyundai Motor Company have publicly cited improvements in those key metrics having used service design techniques which essentially put greater customer focus into designing the experience a company provides.”
The total sample size was 1,024 adults. The survey was conducted online during 22-25 June 2015. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
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About Engine Service Design
Engine supports organisations in the innovation, design and delivery of better services. We work to enhance customers’ experiences and to improve business performance across a wide range of industries and sectors.