The latest insights from the Benchmark survey, published this month by TTi Global Research, reveal a correlation between higher customer effort and lower customer satisfaction among utilities companies in the UK.
TTi Global Research's Utilities Sector Spotlight consumer survey was published this month, using data collected over a three-month period, concluding between 1 June and 31 August 2017. Responses were gathered from 131 participants, who were asked to rate satisfaction and effort and to answer questions about their loyalty and recommendation intentions.
The resulting data revealed that the customer service interactions that required the most effort from the customer, also scored the lowest in customer satisfaction.
Highlights of the survey:
• Interactions typically involving contacting a company operative directly resulted in lower customer satisfaction
• Reporting a problem and billing queries achieved the lowest customer satisfaction scores
• The process of installing a smart meter scored the highest for customer satisfaction
• Helpful, efficient staff and quick, smooth interactions were the top drivers of customer satisfaction
• Spending overly long on the phone trying to resolve issues, difficulty communicating with providers and unhelpful staff produced low satisfaction scores.
• The lower the customer effort, the greater the customer satisfaction with the interaction.
Customers rated a range of interactions on a scale of 1 to 10 – where 1 is the lowest and 10 the highest. Self-service activities such as changing account details, or amending Direct Debit instructions via a utility company's web portal, typically scored highly for customer satisfaction (8.7). Smart meter installation came out on top for satisfaction, with a score of 9.2, alongside a low customer effort score.
Glyn Luckett, Commercial Director of TTi Global Research, commented:
"The results of our benchmark survey show an higher level of satisfaction among utility customers conducting relatively simple changes, such as amending details online, but when it comes to bill queries, refunds and problem reporting - interactions where customers usually need to speak to or email their provider direct - satisfaction starts to fall away.
"Raising customer satisfaction involves getting a 360-degree view of customers’ journey to isolate exactly where customer frustration points occur and taking steps to resolve them. Experience shows that if a company functions well on the inside, it functions well on the outside, helping create higher levels of customer satisfaction and advocacy.”
By contrast, interactions requiring higher effort, such as reporting a problem, switching suppliers, and opening a new account – all typically involving directly contacting a company operative – saw a dip in satisfaction ratings (to 7.3 and lower), with billing queries and problem-reporting scoring lowest at 6.5.
The top drivers of satisfaction across the range of interactions rated were cited by participants as helpful, efficient staff, and quick, smooth interactions. The lower the customer effort, the greater their satisfaction with the interaction.
Whereas interactions involving communication difficulties, long waits, and unhelpful staff, the lower an interaction scored overall.
Mr Luckett added:
“It’s well known that UK utility companies are working hard to put customers first and deliver better customer service. On a positive note, our findings show that compared to other sectors, utilities achieved a higher overall satisfaction score for customer service than telecoms and airline providers.
“If utility providers can invest more in improving frontline employees’ ability to handle complaints quickly and efficiently, and find ways to decrease customer effort - particularly reducing the need to call by offering more online self-serve options - this could help raise customer satisfaction substantially.”
TTi Global research has over 20 years' experience in delivering insightful market research solutions for organisations worldwide. For further information on TTi Global's Benchmarking Survey, visit www.tti-global-research.co.uk.
Contact Glyn on firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: +44 (0) 1753 214000
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