Customer satisfaction in transport is on the up, but businesses urged to ‘get it right first time’

27th Jul 2016

Overall customer satisfaction in the transport sector has increased over the past year, continuing the ongoing upward trend in satisfaction since 2011, reveals the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published today by the Institute of Customer Service. The UKCSI gives the UK’s transport industry an overall customer satisfaction rating of 74.4 out of 100 – 1.5 points higher than its July 2015 score.

The data offers important insights into key metrics, including complaints, trust and changing channel use. This year, the sector has experienced increases in online, phone and in-writing measures, but not for ‘in person’ experiences. Indeed, the sector scored especially low compared to the UK average for helpfulness and competence of staff when dealt with in person. This is particularly important because this measure accounts for over 40% of customers’ interactions. 

Transport has the highest proportion of problems of any sector that are concerned with the quality and reliability of services, and performs well below the UK average for satisfaction in this area. Reliability is cited in 44.9% of all problems. There has also been an increase in the proportion of customers – from 20% to 27% - who prioritise excellent service, even if means paying more.

16 organisations within the sector have improved, with only three demonstrating a fall in customer satisfaction. Virgin Atlantic tops the tables as the highest scorer in the industry, with East Midlands trains as the most improved. 

The UKCSI is the Institute of Customer Service’s national measure of customer satisfaction based on 10,000 consumer responses. It provides insights into the state and direction of customer satisfaction at a national level, across 13 key sectors and for individual organisations. 

The results found a clear link between organisations getting customer experiences right first time and achieving high scores for satisfaction. On average the UKCSI score was 82.7 for those organisations where customers said they had issues resolved immediately, but when this did not happen the score drops to an average of 59. This correlation can be seen in the transport industry, where customers rate companies as getting it right first time in 72% of cases and the sector received an overall rating of 74.4. 

In many sectors there has been an increase in the score for customer effort – in other words, customers said they had to expend more effort in dealing with organisations than they did a year ago. In the transport sector, 34% of people say that it has taken them more than two complaints to get a problem fixed. The extra staff time spent on repeat customer contact to resolve issues is arguably time which could be better spent, with businesses set to save money on staff hours if a focus is placed on getting it right first time. 

The sector has the lowest proportion of customers making a complaint if they experience a problem, and the highest proportion of customers whose reason for not making a complaint is that they ’didn’t think it will make any difference’ (65.6%).

The UKCSI also revealed new evidence of the tangible business benefits of good customer service for all sectors. The relationship between the highest levels of customer satisfaction and trust has strengthened in the past year, with 96% of customers who rate an organisation nine or ten out of ten for customer satisfaction also giving the highest levels of trust. 

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, comments: 

“’Getting it right first time’ has to be a prerequisite for any organisation. Customers expect to be dealt with quickly and competently – as soon as they start to feel let down or ignored, their trust is lost. It’s encouraging to see the national transport sector is making progress, but prevention is always better than cure, so the industry should take note of the areas which need to be focused on. Efficiency, effectiveness and empathy are key, and organisations should always follow up with customers to ensure that the problem is resolved.”   


Notes to editors

For further information please contact:

Ellie Scott, Rebecca Stevenson and Carole Cassidy

E: [email protected] 

T: 0207 010 0831 (Ellie), 020 7010 0810 (Rebecca) or 0207 010 855 (Carole)

About The Institute of Customer Service

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers’ experience and their own business performance.  The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 500 organisational members - from the private, public and third sectors – and over 3,000 individual memberships.  For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to  


UKCSI (UK Customer Satisfaction Index) is The Institute of Customer Service’s national measure of customer satisfaction. It provides insights into the state and direction of customer satisfaction at a national level, across 13 key sectors and for individual organisations.

UKCSI was launched by The Institute of Customer Service in 2008. It provides a unique way of measuring the current customer satisfaction of UK customers, as well as trends over time.

The January 2016 UKCSI results included in this report are based on 39,000 survey responses. Each response is a completed online questionnaire relating to the customer experience with a specific organisation.

These responses are provided by 10,759 individual customers. The respondents are representative of the UK adult population, according to region, age and gender.

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