First Direct reclaims customer experience crown from Lush

Putting ‘humanity’ at the heart of its communication has helped First Direct move back into pole position in KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence ranking.

First direct customer experience

First Direct’s head of brand and marketing Zoe Burns-Shore says humanity is the hallmark of the business’s customer experience.

First Direct has topped KPMG Nunwood’s 2016 UK Customer Experience Excellence ranking, reclaiming the title it lost to handmade cosmetics brand Lush in 2015.

The cosmetics company drops into third place behind retailer John Lewis in the top 100 list, which is based on 10,000 UK consumer brand opinions across a variety of metrics including personalisation, integrity and empathy.

READ MORE: Lush dethrones First Direct as the top brand for customer experience

Emirates climbs 10 places to take the fourth slot, followed by Amazon (5), Richer Sounds (6) and M&S Food, which rises 11 places to secure seventh place. Mobile network giffgaff is the highest climber, rising 45 places to claim eighth, closely followed by Nationwide and Apple in joint ninth place.

Ocado (13), (16), QVC (19), Skipton Building Society (33) and American Express (20) all slip out of top 10 to make way for the likes of Emirates, M&S Food and Giffgaff.

READ MORE: Knowledge is power for customers’ top 100 brands

Focus on memories

Companies that optimise the customer journey to create memories are proving the most successful in terms of creating a great experience, according to KPMG Nunwood director, David Conway.

“It’s about how businesses can create a series of positive memories that drive loyalty and retention, influencing future customer behaviour. Not every experience is equal and its about creating an experience that lives on.”

First Direct head of brand and marketing, Zoe Burns-Shore, one of Marketing Week’s 2016 Vision 100 inductees, sees humanity as the true hallmark of the bank’s customer experience, “whether that’s getting straight through to one of our amazing reps, the language used in a welcome pack, the way a product is designed or a digital interaction”. 

Across the board the index has seen improved customer experience, according Conway. The average rating for the top 100 is 7.33 out of 10, up from a steady 7.25 over the past two years.

In terms of sector, travel and leisure sees the biggest improvement in customer satisfaction. Standout examples include Virgin Holidays, which climbs 98 places to take the number 15 slot, train operator Eurostar, rocketing 142 places to 24, and hotel chain Marriott International, which surges 103 places to 30.

Looking ahead to 2017, Conway expects the biggest driver of improved customer experience to come from within marketing teams themselves.

“Organisations are beginning to realise old silos don’t lend themselves to treating the customer well. Therefore building organisations by customer journey will be the most significant shift.”

KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence