Utilities saw the biggest decline in customer satisfaction last year of all 13 sectors covered by the UK Customer Satisfaction Index.
The water score fell by 1.7 points to 73.4 in July 2019 compared with July 2018, and the energy sector score by 3 points. Together the utilities score fell 2.6 points.
According to the Institute of Customer Service which produces the annual barometer of customer satisfaction, the fall results from an increase in the number of problems and complaints, alongside a slight drop for most experience measures. 14.3% of utility customers experienced a problem, 2 percentage points more than a year ago and the highest level since July 2015. In water specifically, 11.9% experienced a problem, up from 10.9% in 2018.
However, satisfaction with complaint handling is slightly higher than a year ago, especially in the water sector. The report observed: “This illustrates that focusing on complaints, though essential, is not sufficient to achieve sustained growth in overall satisfaction and engagement.”
Other points of note in the report were:
• the proportion of experiences described by utility customers as being right first time, 74.2%, is 1.2 percentage points lower than in July 2018 and the lowest right first time score of any sector except local public services;
• utilities’ Net Promoter Score at -9.4 was the lowest of all sectors, and a -4.5 change on last year driven by a rise in detractors and a fall in promoters (the UK average score is 20.5, with the highest performing sector, non-food retail, on 42;
• there were no utilities in the UKCSI top 50; and
• one chink of light was provided by Northumbrian Water, which came fourth in the list of 20 most improved organisations – its UKCSI score was up 5.6 points to 78.9, 6.8 points above the sector average.