Rankings are based on more than 24,000 survey responses from European consumers, including more than 8,700 from U.K. consumers who had purchased products or services from each company within the previous 12 months. Consumers also rated companies on various aspects of customer experience including product or service features, customer service and overall value, allowing Satmetrix to analyse drivers of loyalty and performance gaps.
“A company’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience relative to its industry peers is a critical indicator of customer retention and new customer acquisition through positive word of mouth,” said John Abraham, general manager of Net Promoter programmes at Satmetrix. “These benchmarks allow companies to see how consumers rate them relative to their competitors when it comes to customer loyalty. It also allows consumers to get insight to which businesses focus their efforts on creating a better customer experience.”
The study encompasses seven industry sectors. Highlights for each sector include:
Banking: First Direct was the clear winner in the banking sector ahead of eight other banks in the study: Abbey, Alliance & Leicester, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, NatWest and RBS. First Direct’s NPS of +42% was 46 Net Promoter points ahead of the sector average of -4% and a massive 68 points clear of the worst banking customer experience at -26%. First Direct promoters indentified key loyalty drivers such as: UK based call centres; accessible; friendly and knowledgeable customer service staff who are interested in their customer’s experience and the transparency of banking fees.
Car Insurance: Saga took pole position in the car insurance customer experience stakes ahead of competition from Admiral, Aviva, Axa, Churchill, Direct Line, Swinton and Zurich. Saga outperformed the industry average of -9% by 26 points with a NPS of +17%. It holds a strong 46 point lead over the worst performing brand in that sector which will deliver Saga a significant competitive advantage.
Internet Service Providers: Less than half a Net Promoter point separated Virgin Media and Sky in the ISP sector, both scoring between 9 and 10% beating competition from: AOL, BT, Orange, Talk Talk and Tiscali. Although comparatively lower than other industries, a score of +10% was 21 points higher than the sector average of -11% and an impressive 56 points ahead of the brand delivering the worst customer experience.
Mobile phone networks: In the extremely competitive world of mobile phone carriers, where minutes and texts are given away by the thousand, delivering a customer experience that outperforms the market average and the rest of the competition will deliver a real business advantage. That advantage is possessed by 02. Its NPS of +24% is comfortably higher than the 3% average and 37 points ahead of last place in a field that included: 3 Mobile, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin Media and Vodafone.
Mobile phone handsets: With 02 being the preferred network, the Apple iPhone won the best customer experience by a landslide. It beat other handset manufacturers that included: LG, Motorola, Nokia, RIM/Blackberry, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Apple’s world class score of +67% was 80 points ahead of last place and 49 points ahead of the industry average. Having just launched its latest version of the iPhone, can Apple drive customer experience and loyalty further in the next 12 months?
Computer hardware: Apple also had the highest score relative to competitors Acer, Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba, leading the computer hardware sector at +52%. This score was more than double the industry average of +21% and 45 NPS points above the bottom score of +7%.
TV and DVD: Sony beat competition from LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Toshiba. Sony scored an impressive NPS of +39%, fifteen points above the industry average, with the losing score at +7%.
“We continue to see the impact that the customer experience has on loyalty and business growth and profitability,” said Deborah Eastman, CMO at Satmetrix. “Best-in-class companies are those that truly focus on their customers, put in place the right processes to take action based on their feedback, and evaluate how this strategy translates to loyalty and personal recommendations.”
Matt Colebrook, CEO of First Direct commented, “First Direct launched 21 years ago this year with the primary aim of putting our customers’ needs at the centre of the business. It is fantastic to know that we are still the clear leader in providing excellent customer service, mirrored in the recent Which? Award for Best Financial Services Provider”.
Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “Our goal of putting the customer centre stage is starting to be achieved. We’re not there yet but we’ve gone from bottom of the pile, comparing ourselves with everybody in our space, to a pleasing result today. We recognise that there are still a number of challenges if we are to get to where we want to be, but we’re seeing continued and solid improvement in the results of our Net Promoter scores and we’re clearly seeing customers enjoying our products and staying with us longer.”
Cheryl Black, Customer Services Director, O2 said “Everything we do is based on customer insight. We thank every one of our customers who took the trouble to participate in this survey and help us gain this fabulous recognition. We won’t be resting on our laurels: we will continue working hard to deliver award-winning customer service for years to come”.
Paul Green, Head of Communications at Saga stated, “We are delighted to have been recognised as a brand that engenders such strong loyalty amongst our customers. It is our focus on our customer needs and providing excellence in customer service that ensures we remain ahead of the pack.”
Poor customer experience triggers switching epidemic
The Satmetrix Net Promoter benchmarks clearly separate organisations that focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience and those that don’t. The same Satmetrix research identified the reasons behind a switching epidemic in the UK. It shows that 10 million consumers have switched suppliers in the last six months alone. What drove them to spend their hard-earned cash with a different supplier was a poor customer experience, with the main culprits being unfair fees or charges, poor product or service quality and rude or disinterested employees.