and Trivago among the top rates travel firms for customer satisfaction and Trivago among the top rates travel firms for customer satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction Index reveals complaints cost UK businesses £9 billion a month

Marriott, Jet2holidays, and Trivago have been named as the top rated travel companies for customer satisfaction at a time when consumer complaints across all sectors hit a record high. 

In the tourism sector, 12.9% of customers experienced a problem; below all-sector average of 16%, a bi-annual study by the Institute of Customer Service reveals today (Tuesday). 

However, no travel businesses made the overall top ten ranking of organisations rated as best for customer satisfaction, headed by utilities firm UK Power Networks, followed by Timpson, John Lewis, Tesco Mobile, Suzuki and M&S (equal fifth), Ocado, Waitrose, Apple and First Direct. 

Complaints handling is now costing UK businesses more than £9 billion every month in lost staff time, the Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) reveals.

The bi-annual survey polls 10,000 consumers across 13 industry sectors to track the effects of customer service on business performance.

It shows that 17.3% of UK customers encountered a product or service problem, the highest overall level since records began in 2008.

Global supply chain issues and local skills shortages are impacting on the ability of firms to deliver a consistent customer experience. 

In the face of record labour shortages, with 1.3 million unfilled jobs, the cost of handling such complaints has risen to £9.24 billion a month in staff time spent rectifying issues, according to the Institute’s calculations. 

Problems and complaints are a significant drain on productivity and will in the longer term lead to lower levels of customer satisfaction despite swifter complaint handling and resolution, the Institute warned.

With the cost of living crisis high on the business agenda, the report found evidence of a widening polarisation in expectations about affordability of excellent customer service. 

More than one third (35%) of customers indicated that they would be prepared to pay more to guarantee excellent service. Yet, reflecting the increased financial pressures consumers are facing, three in five (58%) customers reported that low prices will become more important in influencing their choice of organisation, product or service across all sectors in the next two years. 

Despite a rise in those experiencing problems, the trend for better complaint handling continues to improve, but there needs to be a shift away from ‘service recovery’ to identifying and addressing the root cause of issues, according to the UKCSI. 

Institute of Customer Service chief executive Jo Causon said: “Many businesses are already struggling to deliver consistent levels of service hampered by staff shortages, supply issues and geopolitical upheaval. 

“Organisations cannot avoid these issues. They will need to develop service strategies that are responsive to evolving customer needs but also protect short and long-term business performance.

“UK business is suffering from a loss of productivity owing to the time spent resolving customer complaints and service failures. For me it’s clear that a carefully calibrated focus on service is crucial to boosting performance and addressing the broader challenges of societal polarisation, inclusivity and wellbeing.” 

Causon added: “There is an increased need to understand the trade-offs different customers are willing to consider in terms of price, quality, availability, sustainability and support. 

“Organisations will need to ensure they maintain essential services and are transparent about the level of service they provide depending on the product, services and price points customers choose.” 

Strong communication and swift resolution of compensation payments to customers left in the dark following Storms Eunice and Franklin earlier this year likely contributed to the success of UK Power Networks. Customers rated it highly for trust, being open and transparent, having helpful and competent people and an easy-to-use website, the study found