A word from our CEO: The state of customer satisfaction in the UK

by Bianca Talbot , The WOW! Awards CEO

Customer service shouldn’t just be a department. It should be the entire company.

Tony Hsieh

Like everyone who works at The WOW! Awards, I firmly believe that customer satisfaction is one of the most important barometers of success. It’s a key indicator for loyalty and retention; a company with happy customers will enjoy more repeat business.

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) recently revealed its survey results for 2022, and it contains some pretty revealing facts. Let’s take a closer look.

Customers are happy to pay for better service

And the numbers are growing. In January 2020, 25.9% of people said they’d be happy to pay more for a higher quality of service. By the following year that had increased to 29.5%. And now, in 2022, a whopping 34% of customers prefer to pay more to receive better levels of service. While these numbers aren’t yet a majority, the trend is clear.

This level of awareness from customers–that excellent service costs companies money, and the customers themselves are more than willing to subsidise it–will be a welcome revelation for many businesses.

Crucially (and perhaps not surprisingly), those willing to spend more than displayed higher levels of satisfaction – 85% versus an average of 78%.

Jo Causon, CEO at The Institute of Customer Service, believes that “against the backdrop of a challenging economy, a strong service offering is an increasingly important battleground for brands to differentiate themselves and drive stronger financial performance.”

Better service as an ethics issue

When asked to rank ‘ethical’ reasons for supporting a company, the response “they provide excellent customer service” ranked higher than… everything else. It was seen as more important than a company’s environmental credentials. More important than financial transparency. More important than the desire to ‘shop local’.

This may come as a surprise to some, but it echoes a very real trend I see every day at The WOW! Awards. We’re flooded with nominations that wax lyrical about the importance of good customer service. And based on everything I’ve heard from our clients, I truly believe that employee recognition is the most effective way to boost your customer service.

It’s the reason United Utilities has seen its industry service rankings soar. It’s why SafeMove won BQF Excellence awards in both 2018 and 2020. And it’s why Hampshire NHS Trust has been able to deliver even more impressive levels of patient care and understanding.

Recommendations from UKCSI

At the end of its report, the UKCSI makes several recommendations to all companies. Towards the top of the list is a seemingly simple goal – focus on employee engagement and wellbeing.

Others at The WOW! Awards have already focused on the importance of wellbeing. (For all you numbers fans out there, the key takeaway was this: workers who believe their employer looks out for their wellbeing are 81% less likely to search for a new job. Clearly, wellbeing at work matters.)

But why would employee engagement necessarily lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction? In the report’s own words:

Engaged employees demonstrate discretionary effort and empathy, deliver consistent performance and generate new ideas to improve processes or customer experience. These behaviours lead to better customer satisfaction, productivity, agility and business performance

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) 2022

And the best way to achieve such engagement?

Our research has shown that the leading drivers of employee engagement are being recognised and thanked… and timely communications

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) 2022

It’s a point I’ve made time and time again to clients, and one that every company running its own WOW! Awards scheme will appreciate. By recognising your employees’ achievements–not just once a year during annual reviews, but every single day–you’re showing them you care. You’re bringing them into the company, investing them in their work in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

And who knows. Perhaps in next year’s UKCSI survey, your own company will have contributed to the next great leap in customer satisfaction.


Bianca Talbot

CEO, The WOW! Awards