Covid-19 issues behind record high in complaints to firms, survey finds

A record 13% of people have made a complaint to a company in the past year, a long-running customer satisfaction survey has found.

Covid-19-related product availability and service reliability issues are behind the slew of problems, according to the Institute of Customer Service.It said 13% is the highest figure it has recorded since the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) started in 2008.

Six months ago, the last time the twice-yearly survey was carried out, the proportion of people who had made complaints stood at 11%.

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As customer frustrations grew, the proportion of customers willing to pay more for better service increased to 34% – also the highest number ever recorded by the index.

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More customers than ever before are willing to pay a premium for quality service

Jo Causon, Institute of Customer Service

The survey of 10,000 people looks at the effects of customer service on business performance.

The latest results found 16% of customers had experienced problems with a brand’s service in the past six months.

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The research indicated that consumers are experiencing fewer problems with staff and more problems with availability, suitability, and quality/reliability of goods and services, compared with 12 months ago.

A wider range of organisations than usual also came out top in the poll for customer service, breaking the traditional retail sector stranglehold.

The top 10 included Pets at Home, first direct, Saga insurance, Timpson, Skoda UK, Nissan and Greggs.
Pets at Home performed strongly in the index (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Archive)
Jo Causon, CEO at the Institute of Customer Service said: “There is no easy remedy for rising prices and shortages of goods, so we must all become better at dealing with delays and disappointments.

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“Although satisfaction with complaint handling and overall satisfaction has improved, we need to address wider service chain issues if we are to improve the nation’s performance and productivity.”

She continued: “More customers than ever before are willing to pay a premium for quality service.

“This suggests there is an opportunity to invest in delivering the real value that customers expect and deserve.

“Those that have made our top 10 make it easy to contact the right person, and build trust that they truly care about their customers.

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“Against the backdrop of a challenging economy, a strong service offering is an increasingly important battleground for brands to differentiate themselves and drive stronger financial performance.”

The top 10 rated organisations in January 2022, according to the index, are:

1. Pets at Home

2. first direct

3. Saga insurance

4. UK Power Networks

5. Timpson

6. Skoda UK7. John Lewis

8. Jet2holidays.com

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=9. Nissan=9. Greggs