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UK customer experience improves despite COVID-19, but there’s a new customer to please

UK customer experience improves despite COVID-19

Overall customer experience in the UK has improved for the third year running, despite COVID-19, presenting brands with extreme challenges, including shifting customer expectations.

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  • Overall customer experience in the UK has improved for the third year running, despite COVID-19, presenting brands with extreme challenges, including shifting customer expectations
  • First direct, QVC UK, Starling Bank, John Lewis & Partners and Lush are the brands topping this year’s ranking
  • Grocery Retail and Financial Services are the leading sectors for best customer experience. However, Logistics, Restaurant & Fast Food and Public Sector brands have noted the most improvement

UK Plc has rallied in the face of adversity: customer experience has improved for the third year running – up 3% year-on-year1 – despite the array of challenges presented by COVID-19.

The latest analysis from KPMG Nunwood stresses that a new and drastically changed customer has emerged from this pandemic – one who is feeling more financially constrained, is more digital savvy and places greater emphasis on their trust in brands2. This requires brands to be even more focused on integrity and purpose, whilst being innovative, responsive and agile, if they are to compete and grow.

Over 13,000 British consumers determined that the brands leading the way on customer experience are: first direct, QVC UK, Starling Bank, John Lewis & Partners and Lush. This is the fifth time in 11 years first direct has topped the index, while Starling Bank is a newcomer to the ranking.

Commenting on the findings, Tim Knight, Customer Advisory Partner at KPMG UK, said:

“Faced with an unexpected set of customers challenges, UK plc has risen to the occasion.  Many brands have improved their customers’ experiences during lockdown, showing integrity and winning loyalty.

“However, for many businesses, this is just a prelude to more seismic disruption. To minimise costs and return to growth, business leaders are going to need to adapt even more rapidly in the months ahead.  This is a business challenge that will affect every function: the new, changed customer will require leaders to be braver and more connected in their thinking than ever before.”

Grocery Retail and Financial Services are the leading sectors for best customer experience, ranking first and second respectively. However, highlighting their prominence during lockdown, Logistics, Restaurant & Fast Food and Public Sector brands have noted the most improvement year-on-year, with overall scores of these sectors improving 5%. Travel and Hotels was the only sector not to improve, however it is a sector that has arguably faced some of the greatest challenges in recent months during lockdown. 

Alongside the overall uptick in customer experience, a closer look at the Six Pillars of Customer Experience3 reveals that Resolution and Empathy were the areas noting the biggest improvement this year. Indeed, these pillars represent key elements of customer interaction during the pandemic, being focused on turning a poor experience into a great one and achieving a better understanding of a customer’s circumstances to drive a closer relationship.

With Grocery Retail being the leading sector for customer experience in this year’s analysis, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added:

“Grocery retail has played a vital role during the COVID-19 crisis, and the fact that collectively the sector ranks best for customer experience is just testament to the colossal effort made to ensure a sense of business as usual despite social distancing restrictions. Not only does this show the agility of grocers, but it also points to the understanding and cooperation of consumers – after all, society at large has had to work collectively to combat the virus.

“The pandemic called for purpose to be put before profit, and grocery businesses have certainly demonstrated the key role they play in local communities – consumers will look favorably at that. Looking ahead though, all consumer brands need to review their business models and ways of working, given how much consumers have changed their behavior in recent months.” 

The latest KPMG Nunwood report – Meet your New Customer: Competing in the new reality – can be accessed: here

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  1. The UK’s overall Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) score increased from 7.21 in 2019 to 7.45 this year. More details about the CEE metric and research methodology below
  2. KPMG’s recent consumer insights report – Customer Connections: Competing in the New Reality – can be accessed: here
  3. KPMG Nunwood’s Six Pillars of Customer Experience are what drive brand advocacy and loyalty, comprising of personalisation, integrity, expectations, resolution, time & effort, and empathy

For media enquiries, please contact:

Simon Wilson, PR Assistant Manager

T: 020 7 311 6651

M:  077853 73397

E: simon.wilson@kpmg.co.uk

 

KPMG Press Office

Tel: +44 (0) 207 694 8773

Research Methodology:

The 2020 UK Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) research was conducted between 17 April and 1 May 2020, exploring experiences with organisations against the previous two months (historically this has been six months). The analysis provides an assessment of the reaction and resilience of organisations since the initial spread of COVID-19 in the UK. 13,031 UK consumers were interviewed, and 278 brands were included in the final ranking. 

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. 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

Further reading references:

·         Last year’s UK Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) report – Power to the People – can be found: here

Top-5 UK brands in the 2020 UK Customer Experience Excellence analysis: 

2020 Ranking Brand Industry Movement vs previous year
1 first direct Financial Services  0 (unchanged)
2 QVC UK Non-Grocery Retail  +8
3 Starling Bank  Financial Services  N/A (not ranked previously)
4 John Lewis & Partners Non-Grocery Retail +9
5 Lush Non-Grocery Retail -2

UK overall customer experience performance over time: 

Year

Overall Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Score

2013

7.21

2014

7.25

2015

7.25

2016

7.33

2017

7.08

2018

7.13

2019

7.21

2020

7.45

Sector performance ranking and comparison to previous year: 

Industry   CEE Metric (vs. previous %)  2020 sector ranking 
Grocery Retail  +4% 1
Financial Services +4% 2
Restaurant & Fast Food  +5% 3
Non-Grocery Retail +3% 4
Telecoms +3% 5
Entertainment & Leisure  +2% 6
Utilities +3% 7
Logistics +5% 8
Travel & Hotels  0% 9
Public Sector  +5% 10

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 21 offices across the UK with approximately 17,600 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.40 billion in the year ended 30 September 2019. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, Legal 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.

 

 

© 2020 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.

For more detail about the structure of the KPMG global organisation please visit https://home.kpmg/governance.

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