Public services: good, but no room for complacency

11th Sep 2017

Customer satisfaction with our national public services is at its highest level for nine years, with HM Passport Office and The Post Office getting the biggest thumbs up from customers.

According to The Institute of Customer Service’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), HM Passport Office is the top-performing organisation in the sector, achieving a CSI score of 80.4. This is the first time a national public sector organisation has passed the 80 mark.

The Post Office is the most improved organisation in the sector. Its CSI is up 2.4 points on the year, to 79.3. The sector-wide CSI is 76. Its 1.9-point jump on the year makes it the most improved sector in this year’s Index.

Getting it right
Managing complaints and building customer trust are the two areas where the sector has made the biggest leaps. However, it has also shown significant improvement in getting customer experiences right first time. A 7.7% increase to 79% on this measure means that the sector has beaten the UK average increase of 5.6%.

Getting customer experiences right first time has a major influence on overall customer satisfaction levels. The CSI of customers who had a good first experience is 81.7, compared with 51.6 for those who did not.

Areas for improvement
Despite the good news, the sector is performing below the UK average on all measures of customer satisfaction. It needs to show improvement in its speed of response by text, social media and web chat. This is the only area in which organisations have failed to show any improvement in customer satisfaction on the year.

The sector is also weak on managing complaints and experiences on the phone – a cause for concern, as the telephone is the most widely used channel by customers when making a complaint.

The amount of effort customers devote to dealing with national public services has increased slightly to 5.4 out of 10, compared with a UK average of 4.9.

Prevent problems at source
While the sector is getting better at handling complaints, this is not having a transformational effect on overall levels of customer satisfaction. The Institute recommends preventing problems at source by addressing poor staff attitudes and competence, which cause the largest proportion of problems. Customers want staff to listen more carefully and acknowledge and show an understanding of their problem, the Institute advises.

Organisations should also not be fooled by a low rate of complaints. This is often because customers are not convinced that making a complaint will make a difference. National public services therefore need to actively encourage customer feedback and use that information to improve their customer service track record.

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