UK brands struggle to keep pace with rising customer expectations, KPMG Nunwood reveals

UK brands struggle with rising customer expectations

Customer experience (CX) across UK plc has stalled drastically as brands struggle to keep pace with soaring customer expectations, the latest research from KPMG Nunwood reveals.


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Just a select few brands – including QVC UK, John Lewis Finance and first direct – were found to be ‘outstanding’ according to the survey of over 10,000 UK consumers.

The study – now in its eighth year – finds that the UK’s overall Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) score has weakened to a record low – falling from 7.33 in 2016 to 7.08. Moreover, only 8% of British brands saw their performance improve.

Despite the headway reported in last year’s analysis, UK performance once again sees the country fall behind the United States. In fact, this year’s score places the UK where the US was five years ago.

UK performance once again sees the country fall behind the United States - graph

Some brands did manage to buck the overall trend. Many of Britain’s consistent top performing brands continued to be outstanding (obtaining a CEE score of 8.00+), with five businesses in this camp. Moreover, 28 brands managed to climb KPMG Nunwood’s ranking by 50 or more places this year – seven more than last year.

2017 UK Top-10 Brands by CEE score:

Ranking Brand


(position in ranking)

2017 CEE Score
1 QVC UK +18 8.22
2 John Lewis Finance NEW 8.19
3 first direct -2 8.06
4 John Lewis -2 8.04
5 Lush -2 8.00
6 Emirates -2 7.91
7 Skipton Building Society +26 7.90
8 Ocado +5 7.90
9 M&S +7 7.83
10 Amazon -5 7.79

Despite the success of these few, there was a marked decrease in CX performance among many brands falling outside this year’s top-10. It was the poor performance of the majority that weighed the UK’s overall score down to the record low recorded.

Commenting on the latest findings, David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said:

Our latest research illustrates that the vast majority of UK brands are struggling to keep pace with rising customer expectations, and it is clear that these expectations are playing an increasing role in determining a customer’s advocacy for, and loyalty to a brand. Innovation and the success of those leading the way are the primary driving forces behind this shift, with shoppers now judging customer service in comparative terms - the strong performance of one brand raising the bar for others.

Even this year’s outstanding brands are having to work hard to maintain their prized position, as new entrants – not restricted by what has worked in the past – are redefining the rules for success. For those left scrabbling to keep up, there is a lot to be learnt from this year’s strong performers, whilst the consequences of inaction include loss of business as well as the inability to retain customers.

Describing the ingredients for successful customer experience, Adrian Clamp, UK Head of Customer Advisory at KPMG, added:

It is clear that top-performing brands have a preoccupation with excellence at all levels of the organisation and adopt global best practice for customer experience.

Successful brands are engaging, empowering and enabling their people. Moreover, they have clear customer strategies and ensure customer experience design is delivered by connecting and integrated marketing, sales and service operations. Those leading the pack also clearly understand the economics that underpin customer experience, and its significance in determining a brand’s financial success, as well as its survival.

To view KPMG Nunwood’s full report, The Connected Experience Imperative, please click: here






For media enquiries, please contact:

Simon Wilson, KPMG Corporate Communications

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KPMG Press Office

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Notes to editors:

KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) score is a weighted average of each brand’s score, as mapped against The Six Pillars that drive brand advocacy and loyalty (Personalisation, Time and Effort, Resolution, Integrity, Expectations, Empathy).

  • Methodology of the KPMG Nunwood 2017 UK Customer Experience Excellence Centre (CEEC) analysis: KPMG Nunwood surveyed over 10,000 consumers in July 2017 on various aspects relating to customer experience. Brands are ranked in order according to their CEE score. The CEE score is derived via a weighted average of the brand’s score for each of The Six Pillars. This weighting is calculated by the relative importance of each pillar in driving two commercial outcomes KPMG Nunwood measures in the analysis: advocacy and loyalty.
  • About KPMG Nunwood: KPMG Nunwood provides full-service customer insights, journey mapping and leadership strategy, helping clients create real business results.
  • KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre (CEEC) is one of the largest international studies of customer experience best practice. It focusses on researching, analysis and applying customer experience best practice from around the world.
  • In October 2017, KPMG launched its next generation Voice of the Customer (VoC) tool: KPMG Customer Experience Cloud. More information on this can be found: here.
Ranking UK Sector % Difference in UK sector CEE score vs 2016
1 Grocery Retail -3%
2 Non-Grocery Retail -2%
3 Financial Services -2%
4 Restaurants and Fast Food -3%
5 Entertainment and Leisure -3%
6 Travel and Hotels -5%
7 Telecoms -3%
8 Utilities -5%
9 Logistics -6%
10 Public Sector -5%
TOTAL STUDY The UK's overall CEE score (inclusive of all brands and all sectors) -3%

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 13,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.07 billion in the year ended 30 September 2016. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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