UK consumers ‘underwhelmed’ by their experience with brands

UK consumers are ‘underwhelmed’ by their experience with brands, with no brand rated ‘excellent’ according to Forrester Research’s first Customer Experience Index in the UK. 

Amazon topped the brand list for customer experience among UK consumers

Forrester polled 2,000 UK consumers to rank brands on ease of use, meeting their needs and levels of enjoyment, which were turned into scores of between 1 and 100, ranking scores above 85 as “excellent”.

Just six brands, all retailers, achieved a score of 75 or higher, meaning customers’ experience was “good”. Amazon came out on top with a score of 81, followed by Marks & Spencer (79), John Lewis (78) and Debenhams (77). The remaining 23 brands were all rated as only “OK” or “poor”, with Orange coming out at the bottom with a score of 38, behind Vodafone (41), BT (48) and Virgin Media (52).

Retailers also performed best as a category, with an average score of 74, ahead of hotels on 66 and banks on 65. Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, senior analyst of customer experience at Forrester, believes retail performed better than other sectors because Amazon has spurred on competition, forcing rivals brands to “step up” and innovate around retail and digital experiences.

Mobile telecoms and TV service providers, on the other hand, came bottom, a fact van den Brink-Quintanilha puts down the technological challenge of meeting customer expectations.

“It is clear more focus on the customer experience needs to go into some sectors. Lots of companies are still in ‘repair’ mode, focusing on how to fix broken experiences. Companies that excel in customer experience have moved on and are looking at ways to innovate and differentiate to provide services that customers haven’t even thought of,” she says.

These companies, she adds, have a clear understanding of what makes their brand proposition unique and how to communicate that with customers. She believes that marketing can play a crucial role in improving customer experiences, but that it needs to be relevant.

Forrester cites Santander as an example of a brand attempting to mask “mediocre experiences” through marketing. It performed worst of all the bank brands, with an index score of 57 and an enjoyability score of 27, which Forrester puts down to the fact that its advertising campaign isn’t translating into positive emotional engagement with customers.

“When a brand is really focused on winning, serving and retaining customers [marketing] can be an extremely powerful tool. But when marketing is disconnected from the things that matter most to customer, they will continue to be frustrated because their basic needs haven’t been met,” says van den Brink-Quintanilha.

Santander recently shifted its marketing message to a promise to be ‘simple, personal and fair’ in a new campaign that features brand ambassadors Jessica Ennis-Hill, Rory McIlroy and Jenson Button as part of the story rather than being the subject of the spot as they have been in recent efforts.