Which? survey finds energy and telecoms companies failing to impress customers

Which?’s annual survey of the UK’s 100 biggest brands has revealed that energy and telecoms providers are the companies rated among the lowest when it comes to customer service.

We asked 3,501 UK consumers which companies ranked highest for customer service and those who could do with pulling their socks up. After coming second to bottom last year, ScottishPower had the lowest rating with a customer score of 59%, just ahead of Npower with 61%.

Telecoms providers BT (63%), TalkTalk (64%), Vodafone (66%) and EE (68%) once again languished towards the bottom of our rankings, setting a worrying trend for the telecoms industry.

Our survey also found:

  • Lush came top of our table with a score of 89%. It achieved the full five stars for people feeling valued as a customer, staff helpfulness and knowledge of products and services.
  • Other champions of customer service included First Direct (86%), Lakeland (84%) and The Body Shop, John Lewis and Waitrose (all 83%).
  • Many of the banks saw significant climbs up the table, with Santander (79%) rising from 70th place last year to joint 14th. Barclays and Yorkshire Bank also both rose from joint 60th to joint 19th (78%).
  • 78% of us feel customer service is important when deciding which companies to use, and 88% of people said poor service puts them off using a brand again.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

“Long suffering customers deserve better, as once again essential services that we all rely on have been caught falling down on how they treat people.

“Nearly nine in 10 told us poor service puts them off using a company again, so there is a clear incentive to offer service that makes customers smile. Companies at the bottom of our survey should take note: make your customers seethe and you will pay the price.”

Notes to Editors

1. For a full list of the best and worst customer service brands click here

2. We surveyed 3,501 members of the UK public in May 2015 about the big UK brands they had interacted with in the past 12 months – whether face-to-face or by email, telephone, post or social media. The 100 brands were chosen based on market share in their sectors. Each brand was rated on making its customers feel valued, knowledge of products and services, helpfulness of staff, resolving complaints or problems, and access to customer support. Respondents were also asked to give each brand an overall rating out of 10 for customer service, which is where our customer service score comes from. The survey concentrates on customer service offered by companies in isolation from the value for money they offer or the quality of the products and services they offer.

3. For a full list of last year’s best and worst customer service brands click here

4. In the research customers told us their customer service likes and gripes. Friendly or helpful staff was top with 53% of people saying they liked this aspect of customer service, followed by good knowledge of product and service (29%) and speed of service (also 29%). Top gripes were call centres not being based in the UK – with 46% of people saying they found this irritating, followed by automated phone systems (36%) and being passed around lots of different people (32%).

5. We looked at six sectors and these are the best and worst across each:

Personal Finance – Top: First Direct (86%) – Bottom was Clydesdale Bank with 72% (the sector average was 77%). Some of our biggest banks were among this year’s highest climbers – Santander rose to joint 14th place from 70th last year and Barclays and Yorkshire Bank also both climbed to joint 19th from joint 60th in 2014’s survey.

Supermarkets – Top: Waitrose (83%) – Bottom was Aldi with 71% (the sector average was 76%). Sainsbury’s came second, followed by Tesco.

Retailers – Top: Lush (89%) – Bottom were B&M Home Store, Currys PC World and Dreams, all with 69%. Lakeland, The Body Shop and John Lewis were all in the top five of our survey. Budget brands dominate the bottom – Poundland, Matalan, Poundstretcher and Shoe Zone all clustered towards the end of the table.

Travel – Top: British Airways (77%) and bottom Ryanair (66%) – the sector average was 72%. Package holiday firms Thomas Cook and Thomson were a close second.

Telecoms – Top: Three (75%) and bottom BT (63%) – the sector average was 69%. Sky was a close second in this sector with 73%.

Energy firms: Top SSE (74%) and bottom ScottishPower (59%) – the sector average was 68%. Energy is the worst performing sector with two of the Big Six propping up the table – Npower with 61% and ScottishPower rock bottom of the 100 brands we looked at.

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