UK Customer Satisfaction Index 2019: How to seed trust in the customer experience

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Mike Barnard 18th March 2019 5 minute read

UK Customer Satisfaction Index 2019: How to seed trust in the customer experience

The emotional connection we forge with a brand increasingly impacts on the satisfaction we feel when we deal with them. With consumers growing suspicious of the giant digital players, organisations will need to lean hard on their Customer Ethos to counterbalance the loss of trust, says Mike Barnard, Executive Officer, Capita Customer Management. (For more from Mike on the customer experience, see our report on the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index results.)

In my last couple of blogs I’ve looked at two interesting trends to have emerged from the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index – the recent downward drift of customer satisfaction and the upward trend towards better complaint handling.

In this final piece, I think it’s worth considering not another set of numbers the study has unearthed, but how the Institute of Customer Service has advanced the survey this year, and why it’s important.

As well as testing the familiar measures of customer experience such as product reliability or the attitude and helpfulness of staff, the ICS now seeks to evaluate a number of more emotional criteria.        

  • Customer Ethos – the extent to which customers perceive that organisations genuinely care about customers and build the experience around their needs.
  • Emotional Connection – the extent to which an organisation engenders feelings of trust and reassurance.
  • Ethics – reputation, openness and transparency, and the extent to which an organisation is deemed to “do the right thing”.

It’s an excellent move. We are a super brand conscious society now, more so than ever, and that’s all of us, not just Millennials. There is far more interest in socially-oriented capitalism and responsible business, and I’m proud to say it’s a major part of our own agenda at Capita. The idea of having a broader sense of purpose than simply providing product and making money is going to become ever more important to consumers. Finding a way to gauge the contribution such principles make to customer satisfaction – and enable organisations to hold themselves to account when they fail – is immensely valuable.

Though for customer ethos to succeed it has to permeate everything a brand does; in the way it deliver services, in the way it handles refunds, in the products it sources, and in the respect with which it treats customer data.

This is all part of a broader debate around trust. It’s clear consumers are increasingly feeling that some of the digital behemoths in the world have an agenda that is not, fundamentally, about their interests. They’re about profit, and privacy suffers.

If we are to avoid that toxic mistrust spreading, brands will have to work harder to demonstrate that while they personalise, they do it only to the extent that an individual explicitly lets them.

The right person for the right brand

We face many of the same responsible business challenges in our own company and are addressing them in a range of ways, from putting employees on Capita’s PLC board to topping up Capita’s defined benefits pension fund.

But I also think we have a role in advising clients how to go from policy to operations, and help concepts such as Customer Ethos materialise in the customer experience and make a difference to it.

For example, we are putting more thought and sensitivity into the people we recruit to work for our operations – especially those were brand is hugely important. There’s a National Trust person, an RSPCA person, a Samsung person, and an M&S person. All are employed by Capita, but each one will have slightly different motivations, value sets, interests and so on. Looking for that when we recruit means that the link between our colleagues’ individual purpose, and the purpose of the brand they represent, becomes ever stronger.

And that will make it far easier for our clients to communicate the ethos, ethics and emotional connection customers are searching for - and ultimately help drive their growth and success.

In our latest publication, Mike shares his exclusive commentary on the 10 changes in customer satisfaction levels in the past year (as reported in the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index). Read 'What's happened to customer satisfaction?' here.

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