The UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) - which asked for feedback from 10,000 people on customer service levels across different companies, brands and sectors - gave the leisure sector a rating of 79.6 out of 100, down from c82 in January.
The slight decline was reflected in individual companies and brands that are included in the list of top 50 firms ranked according to customer satisfaction. The top performer in the eating and drinking out sector was Pret A Manger, which was included for the first time and had a ranking of 83.4, making it 12th in the list.
Toby Carvery moved up from 23rd to 17th place but its customer satisfaction score fell from 83.7 to 82.8. Greggs’ score declined from 84.8 to 82.5 as it moved from 14th to 21st.
There were also declines in score for Subway (82.4 to 81.4, 34th to joint 32nd place), Costa Coffee (82.1 to 80.9, 37th to joint 40th), PizzaExpress (81.8 to 80.6, 44nd to 47th) and Caffe Nero (83.9 to 80.5, 22nd to joint 48th)
Overall, the leisure sector was behind the automotive industry (79.7), tourism (79.8), food retail (80.9) and non-food retail (82.2).
Across all industries, the research found that consumers are less satisfied with their customer experience now than they were in January 2011. The overall satisfaction score was 76.3% this, a fall from 78.2% in 2013.
Only ten organisations in the top 50 improved on their performance since July 2013. John Lewis and Amazon came top of the survey of nearly 10,000 consumers
The study also found that the people most likely to be dissatisfied with levels of customer service are from younger age groups. “This suggests that customer expectations will continue to rise over time, and that organisations will need to adapt in order to maintain their customer focus,” said the ICS.
The majority of customers (60%) want a balance of price and service with at least threshold levels of customer service, in all sectors. One in four (24%) of customers indicated that they favour excellent service and would be prepared to pay a premium for it, whereas 15% are primarily motivated to seek the cheapest prices, even if this means compromising the quality of customer service.
Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, said: “There are a number of factors that could be influencing the downward trend in satisfaction. Customer expectations are rising and their needs are changing more quickly, with speed, convenience and being easy to do business with particularly important. In this environment, organisations must invest in customer insight and apply it with agility. They will also need continuously to review their customer service skills, capabilities and standards to ensure they are relevant to changing customer needs.
“The UK is now a genuine relationship economy, where an organisation’s long-term success is determined by the quality of interactions between customers, suppliers, partners and organisations. The evidence in UKCSI shows a clear correlation between high levels of customer satisfaction and increased trust, loyalty, recommendation and sales growth, something that can be demonstrated clearly in the retail food sector.
“Organisations that deliver sustained, long-term success are those with a strategic leadership commitment to customer service across the whole customer experience. As the economy moves into growth, there is a temptation to prioritise a short-term boost in customer numbers; but the evidence from UKCSI demonstrates that only a consistent focus on the customer experience will enable organisations to adapt to changing customer expectations and achieve sustainable success.”
The score for each organisation is the average of all its customers’ satisfaction scores, and the scores for each sector are an average of all responses.