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Customer experience in the UK is slowly but steadily improving, KPMG Nunwood reveals

Customer experience is improving in UK slowly

Overall customer experience in the UK has improved for the second year running, following a record low in 2017, when brands struggled to keep pace with rising customer expectations.

Tim Knight

Partner, Customer Advisory

KPMG in the UK


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  • Overall customer experienece in the UK has improved the for second year running, following a record low in 2017, when brands struggled to keep pace with rising customer expectations
  • First Direct, Monzo, Lush, Richer Sounds, John Lewis Finance and Lakeland are the brands topping this year's rankings, based on the views of over 13,000 British consumers. 
  • Retail and financial services are the leading sectors for the best customer experience, however, utilities and the public sector have witnessed the biggest improvement. 

The report – Power to the People – stresses the vital role employee engagement plays in improving customer experience, with the report’s authors highlighting the close correlation between the two. Moreover, the vast majority of this year’s top performers have made conscious efforts to improve employee experience throughout their business, recognising the impact it has on the customer.

Now in its tenth year, the Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) analysis reveals the second year of improved performance, with the overall CEE score1 increasing from 7.13 in 2018, to 7.21 this year. This follows a record low of 7.08 in 2017, when brands very visibly struggled to keep pace with what customers expected of them.

Looking at the aspects which define customer experience – what KPMG Nunwood terms The Six Pillars2 - the latest findings suggest that meeting, managing and surpassing customer expectations, as well as achieving a better understanding of their circumstances, is where the most improvement has been felt by consumers.

Commenting on the overall findings, Tim Knight, Partner at KPMG Nunwood said:

“This year, we see an increasing number of brands getting real returns from their hard work to improve their customers’ experiences, after many false starts and a record low in 2017. However, keeping pace with rising customer expectations continues to be extremely tough.

“Cross-category leaders are setting new levels of performance, raising the bar for everyone, regardless of sector. This year’s research shows that it’s those brands with the most motivated employees that are best reacting to change, whilst also generating the best returns for shareholders.”

Looking at this year’s results in more detail, first direct, Monzo, Lush, John Lewis Finance and Richer Sands secured the top-spots in the ranking. Meanwhile, Mothercare, Green Flag, Yo! Sushi, Pizza Express and Prudential were this year’s biggest upward movers.

Non-grocery retail, grocery retail and financial services have been the sectors to consistently perform best, however this year’s analysis saw utilities and the public sector note the biggest improvements, with a 3% and 4% increasing their CEE scores respectively.

Commenting from a banking perspective, Richard Little, Head of Challenger Banking at KPMG UK, said:

“There is little escaping the fact that challenger banks are increasingly more established. Many are growing larger and at pace; building solid brands and are continuing to attract new customers. Their innovation has set a new benchmark for what customers expect from their bank, and established players are having to rise to the challenge.

“But the challenger banks are not immune from challenges of their own. As KPMG’s analysis of the challenger bank’s 2018 results sets out all too clearly, there is continuing pressure on profitability, and all institutions face an increasingly complex regulatory environment where brand reputation can quickly be damaged. Customer inertia is particularly strong in banking, and these now established challenger banks face the shared challenges of ring-fencing and of course remaining competitive on rates – something legacy players arguably have more flex on. Clearly innovation within banking will continue to raise the bar, with customer experience at the heart of the battle to win market share in this space.”

To view KPMG Nunwood’s full report – Power to the people – please click: here


For media enquiries, please contact:

Simon Wilson, PR Assistant Manager
T: 020 7 311 6651
M: 077853 73397

KPMG Press Office
Tel: +44 (0) 207 694 8773

Notes to editors:

  1. 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.
  2. KPMG Nunwood – The Six Pillars of Customer Experience comprise of the following:
  • Personalisation – Brands using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection
  • Integrity – Brands being trustworthy and engendering trust
  • Expectations – Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
  • Resolution – Turning a poor experience into a great one
  • Time & Effort – Minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes
  • Empathy – Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive a deep rapport

2019 UK Top-10 Brands by CEE score:

    Ranking            Brand       


  (position in ranking vs. 2018)  

     2019 CEE Score*     
1 first direct 0 8.28
2 Monzo N/A 8.13
3 Lush 0 8.10
4 Richer Sounds N/A 8.08
5 John Lewis Finance -1 8.02
6 Lakeland N/A 7.98
7 Nationwide Building Society 6 7.92
8 Virgin Atlantic 32 7.91
9 Ocado -3 7.91
10 QVC UK 9 7.89
UK overall customer experience performance, over 5 years:
    2015     2016     2017     2018     2019  


Overall Score

7.25 7.33 7.08 7.13 7.21
2019 Biggest movers:
Brand  Movement (position in ranking vs. 2018)   2019 Ranking 
Mothercare +119 57
Green Flag +95 36
Yo! Sushi +85 41
PizzaExpress  +78 87
Prudential +73 54
2019 Sector-by-sector performance:
   Ranking      UK Sector     2019 CEE     score    Improvement vs. 2018 
1 Non-Grocery Retail  7.40 +1%
2 Grocery Retail 7.40 +0%
3 Financial Services 7.39 +1%
4 Restaurant & Fast Food 7.30 +2%
5 Entertainment & Leisure 7.16 +0%
6 Telecoms 7.11 +2%
7 Travel & Hotels 6.99 +1%
8 Utilities 6.94 +3%
9 Logistics 6.76 +1%
10 Public Sector 6.49 +4%
Methodology of the KPMG Nunwood 2019 UK Customer Experience Excellence Centre (CEEC) analysis:
KPMG Nunwood surveyed over 13,000 consumers in April 2019, 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.
About KPMG in the UK:
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 16,300 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.338 billion in the year ended 30 September 2018. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 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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