Customer satisfaction with local public services rises

17th Feb 2017

Overall customer satisfaction with local public services has continued to rise, according to The Institute of Customer Service's UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI).

The index found that overall customer satisfaction in the local public services sector has increased over the past year, continuing the ongoing upward trend in satisfaction since 2011. The UKCSI gave the UK’s local public services an overall customer satisfaction rating of 74.4 out of 100 – 0.6 points higher than its January 2016 score.

Three organisations within the sector improved. ‘Your local library’ topped the tables as the highest scorer in the industry, while ‘your local police service’ was the most improved. 

Consistent with the national trend, customer experience measures around managing complaints showed the largest year-on-year increases, particularly in relation to staff doing what they say they’ll do. 

More complaints

However, despite the overall increase in customer satisfaction, the proportion of problems and complaints was higher than last year: 18.9% of customers had a problem, up from 17.9% and substantially more than the national average of 13.1%.

The UKCSI also found an increase in the score for customer effort – in other words, customers saying they had to expend more effort in dealing with organisations than they did a year ago.

The sector also performed relatively poorly in relation to the UK average for online and over-the-phone customer experience measures, while satisfaction for ‘in writing’ experiences were the lowest of any sector: 54.6 compared to the UK average of 67.9. 

‘Good’ is no longer enough

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute, welcomed the overall improvement in customer satisfaction, but emphasises that further improvement is needed.

She says: “Generally speaking, it’s been a great year for customer service in the local public services sector, with consumers telling us that businesses are improving overall experiences by getting things right first time and dealing with complaints faster and more efficiently.

“However, these factors do not necessarily translate into customer loyalty and recommendation. Just being ‘good’ is no longer good enough, and organisations should think about how they can deliver outstanding service at all times.”

Better consistency is needed across different channels, added Causon. “Engagement through digital methods such as email, text, apps and webchat functions have all increased in the last year, and these are the channels through which it’s most difficult for customer service staff to show empathy,” she notes. “Organisations therefore need to make sure that their staff are highly engaged and highly skilled, as every customer interaction – regardless of the channel it’s on – counts towards business performance.”

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