customer satisfaction UKCSI survey

The Institute of Customer Service has published its annual survey on customer satisfaction which reveals the changing trends due to COVID-19, many of which are likely to endure.

In this first article, we take an overview and look at the statistics and key headlines from the report.

Customer satisfaction in the UK 

Although 50% of the UKCSI measures monitoring satisfaction remained the same year on year, overall average satisfaction with complaint handling has fallen.

  • Customer satisfaction is at 76.8 (out of 100), 0.1 points lower than in January 2020, and the lowest level since July 2015.
  • 6% of customers experienced a problem with an organisation which is the highest level ever recorded.
  • Complaint handling experience also fell in terms of how organisations are dealing with problems and complaints to 57.4 (out of 100).
  • Customer ethos fell slightly to 76.2 (out of 100). This measured the extent to which customers perceive that organisations genuinely care. However, emotional connection and perception of ethics and ‘doing the right thing’ both rose slightly by 0.1 and 0.3 points respectively year on year.
  • Out of 271 organisations and organisation types in the survey, only 44 have improved compared to last year by 2 points, whilst 73 dropped by at least 2 points.

Use and customer satisfaction and experience by channel

Not surprisingly given COVID-19, customer experience by channel has significantly changed.

  • An increase in customer experiences was recorded across all channels (including phone, web, apps, email, text, and chat) except for in-person (which fell by 6.6%) and in writing.
  • Average customer satisfaction rates rose slightly across most channels but did decrease for email, apps, and webchat.

Purchasing habits and experiences

Again, rather unsurprisingly, consumer spending habits and behaviour have significantly changed over the last year, particularly the move towards online retail by older customers, and many of these habits are likely to endure in the future.

  • More than 32% of customers have bought more online with 82% saying this will continue next year.
  • Over 30% of customers have thought more carefully about what they spend, with over 88% indicating this will continue in 20200.
  • Interestingly, there has been an increase in customers choosing to shop with particular companies with nearly 16% choosing to spend with local, independent companies, over 11% spending with companies they trust, and over 6% choosing to spend with more ethical companies – all of which purchasing habits are trending at over 80% to continue next year.
  • However, customers’ finances will come into play more significantly this year with 21.3% of customers predicting they will be financially worse off in the next 6 months.

Customer satisfaction effects on business performance, loyalty, and reputation

Across the average, achieving a 9 or 10 (out of 10) for customer satisfaction has a much stronger effect than an 8 out of 10 in generating the highest levels of loyalty recommendations, trust, and reputation, and in some areas, the effect can be more than double which you can see from the results below.

customer satisfaction survey

The Institute also found anecdotal evidence from members that suggested companies saw an upsurge in customer satisfaction surveys they conducted in the weeks following the first lockdown. These indicated that customers appreciated the efforts companies were making to ensure continuity of service and proactive communications with customers who were perhaps more tolerant of problems at this stage.

Customer suggestions for improvement

Amongst the many suggestions by customers around areas of interaction with a company where improvements could be made, the following came out highest:

  • Make it easier to contact the right person to help (13.5%)
  • Better website navigation (12.9%)
  • More friendly/helpful staff (12.2%)
  • More knowledgeable staff (11.3%)
  • Speed of response and resolution (9.1%)

Customers who indicated their wellbeing was relatively low were more likely to prioritise making it easier to contact the right person, greater availability of staff, and speed of response and resolution.

How is the customer satisfaction survey compiled?

The Institute of Customer Service surveyed 10,000 customers in January 2021 across various sectors, both demographically and geographically representative of the UK population.

The full survey can be found here. Next week, we’ll explore takeaway recommendations in more detail.


QASSS has over 10 year’s experience helping businesses and their customers when things go wrong. Specialist in home improvement and renewable energy, QASSS provides award-winning complaint handling, alternative dispute resolution, remedial works and warranty claims management services.


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.