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Customer experience (CX) across UK plc has stalled drastically as brands struggle to keep pace with soaring customer expectations, the latest research from KPMG Nunwood reveals. Just a select few brands – including QVC UK, John Lewis Finance and first direct – were found to be ‘outstanding’ according to the survey of over 10,000 UK consumers.

The study – now in its eighth year – finds that the UK’s overall Customer Experience Excellence (CEE*) score has weakened to a record low – falling from 7.33 in 2016 to 7.08. Moreover, only 8% of British brands saw their performance improve.

Despite the headway reported in last year’s analysis, UK performance once again sees the country fall behind the United States. In fact, this year’s score places the UK where the US was five years ago.

Some brands did manage to buck the overall trend. Many of Britain’s consistent top performing brands continued to be outstanding (obtaining a CEE score of 8.00+), with five businesses in this camp. Moreover, 28 brands managed to climb KPMG Nunwood’s ranking by 50 or more places this year – seven more than last year.

2017 UK Top-10 Brands by CEE score:

Ranking Brand Movement (position in ranking) 2017 CEE Score*
1 QVC UK +18 8.22
2 John Lewis Finance NEW 8.19
3 first direct -2 8.06
4 John Lewis -2 8.04
5 Lush -2 8.00
6 Emirates -2 7.91
7 Skipton Building Society +26 7.90
8 Ocado +5 7.90
9 M&S +7 7.83
10 Amazon -5 7.79

Despite the success of these few, there was a marked decrease in CX performance among many brands falling outside this year’s top-10. It was the poor performance of the majority that weighed the UK’s overall score down to the record low.

Commenting on the latest findings, David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said:  “Our latest research illustrates that the vast majority of UK brands are struggling to keep pace with rising customer expectations, and it is clear that these expectations are playing an increasing role in determining a customer’s advocacy for, and loyalty to a brand. Innovation and the success of those leading the way are the primary driving forces behind this shift, with shoppers now judging customer service in comparative terms – the strong performance of one brand raising the bar for others.

“Even this year’s outstanding brands are having to work hard to maintain their prized position, as new entrants – not restricted by what has worked in the past – are redefining the rules for success. For those left scrabbling to keep up, there is a lot to be learnt from this year’s strong performers, whilst the consequences of inaction include loss of business as well as the inability to retain customers.”

Describing the ingredients for successful customer experienceAdrian Clamp, UK Head of Customer Advisory at KPMG, added: “It is clear that top-performing brands have a preoccupation with excellence at all levels of the organisation and adopt global best practice for customer experience.

“Successful brands are engaging, empowering and enabling their people. Moreover, they have clear customer strategies and ensure customer experience design is delivered by connecting and integrated marketing, sales and service operations. Those leading the pack also clearly understand the economics that underpin customer experience, and its significance in determining a brand’s financial success, as well as its survival.”

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