Food retailers are top performers for customer satisfaction, UK Customer Satisfaction Index reveals

Despite having undergone one of the most turbulent periods in decades, the results from the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) shows that the retail food sector still demonstrates customer service best practice and highlights the close link between satisfaction and business performance.

Even though customer satisfaction continues to fall, retail food is, once again, one of the top performing sectors in the UKCSI with a score of 79.6 compared to the all sector average of 76. Retail food is the second-highest scoring sector (out of 13) for customer satisfaction, despite falling 1.3 points between July 2014 and January 2015, compared to the 0.3 points drop in the UKCSI all-sector average.

The strong correlation between customer satisfaction and business success is clear to see in the retail food sector more than any other – food retailers with UKCSI scores above the sector average delivered 8.2% year on year sales growth in the 12 weeks to 12 October 2014. Those performing below this average experienced a sales decrease of 1.9% over the same period. This is the sixth consecutive UKCSI in which organisations that score above average within the sector have outgrown their below average counterparts.

The sector is also notable in the broad range performance of organisations, in January and when comparing to previous UKCSI – organisations are polarising with those at the top of the index pulling away from those at the bottom.

The new order in retail food is also reflected in the results, with Lidl’s rise to prominence in the market mirrored by customer satisfaction, improving its score between January 2014 and January 2015 by more than one point. However, eight organisations registered a drop of one point or more.

Ocado has made a notable mark on the Index, with a score of 85.4, pushing Marks & Spencer and Waitrose into second and third place respectively. By contrast, three organisations in the sector scored below 80 points. These scores directly reflect the upheaval that has been experienced in the sector showing the strong link between how customer service can have a significant impact on an organisation’s bottom line.

Jo Causon, chief executive from The Institute of Customer Service, said: “Within the retail food sector, customer service clearly is one of the main influencers of people’s choice. The sector has such strong competition that customers can, and often do, vote with their feet if they are not satisfied, a strong and immediate motivator for companies to focus on customer service.”

“Customer service and satisfaction is not just about dealing with complaints, it is about responding to customers – providing goods and services that are relevant to them and doing so in a way that is easy, efficient and where a problem does arise, it is dealt with in a prompt and professional way.”