First Direct has been crowned the top brand for customer service in a new Which? survey covering 100 of the UK’s biggest brands.
But our poll brings more bad news for troubled energy firm Npower, which limped into last place behind Scottish Power and last year’s lowest rated brand Ryanair.
Our survey of more than 3,000 consumers focused on the customer service of brands across the banking, telecoms, energy, retail and travel industries, in isolation from the value for money they offer or the quality of the products or services they supply.
Which? members can log in now to view the full table of 100 best and worst brands for customer service. You can also watch our video below for a run-down of the highlights from the Which? customer service survey.
Video: best and worst brands for customer service
Top five brands for customer service
Top-scorer First Direct (87%) is followed in our top five by colourful toiletries retailer Lush (86%), much-loved department store John Lewis (83%), popular cookware retailer Lakeland (83%) and winner of the 2014 Which? Award for Best Supermarket, Waitrose (83%). First Direct is the only brand to score five stars across all of our ratings categories including staff knowledge and resolving complaints.
At the bottom of the table with Npower (57%), are Scottish Power (58%) and last year’s lowest-scoring brand, Ryanair (59%).
Npower has regularly hit the headlines this year, including for receiving an ultimatum from energy watchdog Ofgem to reduce billing issues or face sales sanctions. It also came last out of 17 energy brands in our 2014 energy company customer satisfaction survey. Our new survey results suggest Npower has a long way to go if it is to fulfil its aim of being the best ‘big six’ energy supplier for customer service by 2015.
Since our 2013 customer survey, Ryanair has started to implement changes to its customer service including a new website and allocated seating. It’s early days and time will tell if these improvements can lead to Ryanair getting a higher customer service score in future surveys.
Video: your customer service irritations
As well as asking people about their favourite brands for customer service, we also asked them to tell us their biggest irritations when it comes to interacting with brands. Find out the most annoying aspects of bad customer service in our video below.
The top irritations are all pitfalls of telephone customer service – automated menus, being passed around lots of people and annoying hold music. If a brand manages to combine all three that’s a recipe for one very frustrated customer.
It’s likely that First Direct’s approach to telephone service had a big impact on its high score – there are no automated menus when you call. You may have to wait a few moments to speak to someone, but you’ll bypass the irritation of navigating the menu maze. And that’s just good customer service.
How we rated brands for customer service
To discover the best and worst brands for customer service, we surveyed 3,621 members of the public in May and June 2014 about the big brands they had interacted with in the past 12 months – face-to-face or by email, telephone, post or social media. Brands were chosen based on market share within their sectors. Each brand was rated on making its customers feel valued, knowledge of products and services, helpfulness of staff, resolving complaints or problems, and access to customer support. Respondents were also asked to give each brand an overall rating for customer service.