The UKCSI: Why Are Customer Satisfaction Rates Declining?

Eleven out of 13 industries have lower customer satisfaction rates than a year ago, according to a recently released UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI). This begs an interesting question: are customer experiences getting worse, or are companies simply struggling to keep pace with evolving customer expectations?

So, with an average UKCSI score of 77.1 (out of 100), 0.8 points lower than last year, and the fourth consecutive drop in customer satisfaction since July 2017, what has changed? Is it us (the customer) or them (the business)?

The Good News – Telecommunications and Media

Let’s start with the positives – customer satisfaction rates for Telecommunications and Media have increased by 0.4% compared to July 2018 and by 0.7% increase compared to January 2019. The increase is mirrored in the year-on-year growth in NPS, which saw a 5.2-point rise. The improved NPS can be attributed to a 4.5% reduction in the number of detractors (respondents scoring 0-6), and a 0.7% increase by the number of promoters (respondents scoring 7-10).

In an ever-connected, always-online world, Telecommunications and Media customers want to be able to do everything they could in store from their comfort of their home. With slicker apps and, on the whole, more improved online experiences, the sector’s CX is getting better, well, certainly for simpler processes.

However, with more complicated requests, for example, when customers would like to change their plan, or see comparable packages, or upgrade, many are resorting to picking up the phone to speak to a customer contact agent. It is this channel, where customers are unable to see the information agents are talking about and have to sit through lengthy compliance scripts, that often leaves the customer dissatisfied or even leads to them dropping out of the purchase/query altogether.

Now for the bad – Banks and Building Societies

In fact, the UKCSI found that most of the other sectors, (including Retail [Non-food], Tourism, Retail [Food], Banks & Building Societies, Insurance, Automotive, Services, Public Services [National], Public Services [Local], Transport, and Utilities) saw a dip in customer satisfaction.

For the first time since January 2016, however, customer satisfaction rates in Banks and Building Societies have seen a year on year drop. However, despite the 0.7-point drop, the sector remains 2.6 points higher than the UK average.

Banks are clearly ahead of other sectors in creating customer-centric experiences, at least for simpler processes. Indeed, the UKCSI found that 9.9% of recorded customer experiences (for basic transactions, like checking bank balances) in the Banks and Building Societies sector took place through an application, which was much higher than the second highest sector, Telecommunications and Media (5.8%).  

Despite there being even more ways for customers to interact with companies, the number of customer complaints has increased by 1.5%, to 14.3%, its highest ever level. It seems therefore, that with more complicated transactions and processes, what was acceptable in the past, whether that be slow, or inefficient service, or having to contact an agent in a particular channel, is clearly not acceptable now.

Many banks are still failing to fully realise the full potential of their CX tech and how it can be used to create not only great self-service platforms, but also better and more intuitive contact centre experiences, where everything from exchanging documents, signing forms, showing ID, and of course asking questions can be done in one remote interaction.  

What’s changed?

So, what’s changed in the last two years? Well, it’s probably both the customer and the customer experience. Each year, enterprises spend increasing amounts on the solutions and technology that will ultimately facilitate digital transformation. Indeed, worldwide spending is forecast to reach US$1.97 trillion by 2022.

However, just because money is being spent does not necessarily mean that it is being spent wisely or improving the efficiency of the business or the experience for the customer. In fact, research from Couchbase, which surveyed 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises across Europe, found 90% of all digital expectations fail to meet expectations. Expectations for both the business and the customer.

“As customer experience is often seen as a major business differentiator, an increasing number of enterprises are undergoing their digital transformation in a bid to offer more intuitive customer-centric solutions. In 2019, it’s no longer enough for a company to focus solely on offering great self-service platforms.

“These are fine for simple transactions, but when completing complicated or sophisticated processes, they often prove to be frustrating for the customer and inefficient for the business. Even if most customers begin a journey in a remote channel, the majority end up dropping out of the process and escalating to face-to-face channels, anyway, because they are unable to proceed without ‘high touch’ support,” said CEO of Vizolution, Bill Safran.

Vizolution technology offers a unique combination of the high-touch benefits of face-to-face interactions, with the high-tech convenience and lower cost of digital channels. Click here to find out how our solutions typically deliver a 50% reduction in transaction times and costs and over 40% increase in sales conversions, and, most importantly, high levels of customer satisfaction (>80 NPS).

To learn how to prevent your customer satisfaction rates from dropping, check out our follow-up piece on the UK Customer Satisfaction Index.

In 2019, Vizolution, in partnership with client RBS, won the Customer Satisfaction Innovation of the Year award at the prestigious UK Customer Satisfaction Awards, which is organised by the Institute of Customer Service.


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