Utilities see biggest improvement in customer service
Utility firms have done more than any other sector to improve the customer experience, according to the latest annual study by service design consultancy Engine.
The proportion of customers saying utilities are among the best sectors for service jumped from 10% to 13%. This three percentage point rise was the biggest among the 14 sectors covered in the study, narrowly ahead of the leisure industry. Consequently, utilities has risen from twelfth to ninth place in providing the best customer experience.
“Utilities still have a lot of work to do in terms of improving customer satisfaction but they’re heading in the right direction,” said Joe Heapy, co-founder of Engine. “They’ve been better at identifying with people by devising a more coherent, meaningful and joined up customer experience as well as creating new customer-centric roles in which employees are more empowered to use their discretion rather than explicitly trying to boil interactions down to a formulaic procedure. This means they take care of customers rather than just process them, a huge distinction.”
In terms of what utilities need to do to meet customers’ expectations, Heapy observes, “People aren’t asking the earth. The three things they value most when dealing with a company are honesty, efficiency and reliability – and it’s been these three consistently for the last four years of the study.”
At the other end of the spectrum, restaurants (cited by 47%) and hotels (46%) increased their lead in being seen as the best sectors for service. However, when it comes to the best individual companies for service, retail dominates with Amazon leading the way followed by John Lewis, M&S, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Heapy concludes, “The leading sectors and companies in customer service don’t think of it as an add-on at the front line, they put as much effort into designing the customer experience as they do their actual products.”