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New Zealand’s worst customer service industries revealed

New Zealand’s worst customer service industries revealed

Industries that rate the worst for customer service in New Zealand are Government agencies and local councils, and telecommunications, utilities and insurance companies.

Customer service satisfaction in New Zealand overall as, however, doubled from 2012.

The results of the fifth annual KiwiHost Perceptions of Customer Service Survey of more than 1,250 New Zealanders, carried out over September and October last year, reveals that the private sector appears to be heeding the call for better customer service.

The survey covers customer service across sixteen different industries, from automotive repairers, hotels/motels, banks and accounts/legal to supermarkets, medical centres, local councils, Government agencies and Internet service providers.

Companies are rated by customers according to a Happiness Rating, which applies to the number of satisfied responses minus the number of unsatisfied responses, represented as a percentage of the total number of responses for each company.

A Happiness Rating of 100 would indicate that all responses from the company were positive, while a negative Happiness Rating means that responses suggest that the company has more unsatisfied customers than satisfied ones.

The survey has a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.

KiwiHost Managing Director, Jared Brixton, said half of the industry sectors surveyed came out with a Happiness Rating of 50 or more, which is double that of 2012 when only four sectors achieved a similar result.

“At the other end of the scale, no sectors scored a negative rating, which is a tremendous improvement over the previous year. Unfortunately Government agencies, while making a big improvement from last year, just scrape home with a Happiness Rating of three.

“It appears we have hit a critical point where the general level of service has improved to a level at which most organisations are providing somewhat satisfactory service,” he said.

The perception of satisfactory customer service levels increased by 16 per cent – compared to previous years – to 64 per cent compared, to 48 per cent in 2012, and 54 per cent in 2010.

However, the increase in satisfaction is not necessarily reflected in what customers believe, with only 32 per cent of customers saying that customer service is getting better. This is however also a marked improvement on 24 per cent from the previous year.

“If satisfaction levels continue to improve at current levels, those that are not delivering good customer service could find that the responses to their failings become more strident and obvious than in the past, particularly with tools like social media sharing now available to customers.

“We believe that there is still room for improvement when you consider that 36 per cent of those surveyed said they were not happy with the level of customer service provided generally. When you combine this with the 58 per cent of people who say they never complain, it becomes abundantly clear that this does not means companies can become complacent,” Mr Brixton said.

Social media a growing influence

Social media continues to surge as a popular medium for communicating with companies, whether to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the level of service.

“Those using social media have evened out across all age categories and we expect that social media will increase in significance as a medium of communication between a company and its customers."

More than 52 per cent of respondents told the survey that they have posted positive feedback via social media, while 30 per cent of respondents said they had used social media to respond negatively to poor service.

“If companies use social media to respond to both positive and negative feedback, the survey would suggest that they stand a better chance of retaining their customers.”

Star performers

Air New Zealand remains the star performer when it comes to performance across the customer service landscape with a Happiness Rating of higher than 80, compared to other international airlines.

ASB leads the banking industry with a Happiness Rating in the mid-50s, while 2 Degrees heads the telecommunications industry with a Happiness Rating in the mid-40s.

Those surveyed gave the retail hospitality industry (cafes, bars and restaurants) a combined Happiness Rating of nearly 70.

“Respondents have a more favourable perception of the level of customer service provided by banks overall, but the retail hospitality industry and supermarkets are right up there with them – the retail hospitality industry and hotels/motels had the least number of negative responses.

“Telecommunications and Internet Service Providers have clearly got the message and improved the most from last year, going up by 34 Happiness Rating points. On the other hand, Government agencies are still barely making a positive impact.

“It may be easy to say that nobody ever feels favourably disposed towards Government agencies, but the same can be said of local councils, yet local councils – while being the other cellar dweller – still significantly outperform government.”

Mr Brixton added it was interesting to note that TelstraClear had gone from being one of the worst performers in the perceptions of customer service survey in the previous year, to notching up a significant improvement following the Vodafone takeover.

Reasons influencing perceptions of customer service

The KiwiHost Perceptions of Customer Service Survey revealed that New Zealand customers have three basic expectations of an organisation:

1. Listen to me and understand my needs
2. Demonstrate a willingness to help
3. Respond to me in a timely manner

“When a business does not deliver on these three themes, the result is a dissatisfied customer,” Mr Brixton said.

Ends

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