UK customer service short changes consumers, finds new research by KPMG Nunwood

UK customer service short changes consumers

US companies are outpacing their counterparts in the UK when it comes to customer service.

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US companies are outpacing their counterparts in the UK when it comes to customer service, according to new research by KPMG Nunwood.

The firm’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre surveyed over 7,500 US consumers about 243 brands across ten sectors. It found that a customer is six times more likely to have a great experience in the US than a customer in the UK.*

US companies outperformed the UK across almost all of the industry sectors analysed by KPMG Nunwood.  Telecoms and the public sector were the only exceptions to this trend, with no organisations in these sectors featuring inside the top 100 in the US.

However, UK companies are slowly closing the gap on their US rivals.*

David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said: “UK companies are gaining on their US counterparts when it comes to customer service, but are at least three years away from being their equals.

“This is partly due to the structural barriers which exist in UK organisations and continue to inhibit their progress.  UK companies are often simply not designed to deliver a seamless customer journey, with customers suffering as they pass through each silo of the business.  No matter the good intentions of each department, the result for the customer is too often disruptive. 

“The US particularly outperforms the UK when it comes to resolving customers’ problems.  They remove management layers, and empower employees to make decisions and deal with issues as the customer’s first point of contact. This great service leaves the customer feeling better about the organisation than before the problem arose. This is known as the ‘service recovery paradox’ and is unfortunately still a holy grail for many UK businesses.”

The KPMG Nunwood research found that leading US brands recognise the importance of focusing on the detail, with many offering ‘signature experiences’ which sit alongside multiple other sequential micro experiences, that together create a great overall experience.

Top 5 lessons from the US for UK companies:

  1. The board must set a clear sense of customer purpose 
  2. Attention to detail is critical in order to provide a consistently high quality experience to customers. Achieving this can give companies the edge over their competitors
  3. Ensure the customer purpose is in the brand
  4. Have a comprehensive customer experience strategy that clearly defines how customer service will be delivered and how problems will be resolved 
  5. Set clear organisational priorities to tackle the issues damaging customer service and promote best practice so every staff member understands their role in the business.

Top 10 US Brands 2016

Brand CEE Rank 2016
Disney Parks  2
Publix 3
Amazon 4
Chick fil A 5
Costco Wholesale 6
Wagmans 8
Southwest Airlines 9
Zappos 10

Top 10 UK Brands 2015

Brand CEE Rank 2015
Lush 1
First Direct 2
John Lewis 3
Richer Sounds 4
Amazon 6
Skipton Building Society 7
American Express =8
Ocado =8
AO 10



Notes to editors:

For press enquiries please contact

Frances Shennan, Senior PR Manager at KPMG: +44 (0)7584 202794 /

About the KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Centre US Report

The KPMG Nunwood CEE Centre surveyed over 7,500 US consumers about 243 brands across ten sectors and ranked the top 100 US brands by the customer experience they provide. The survey is a celebration of excellence, highlighting the brands which go above and beyond to understand how American best practices can be applied to challenges for UK organisations.To compile the survey, KPMG Nunwood uses The Six Pillars of customer experience: Personalisation, Integrity, Time and Effort, Expectations, Resolutions, Empathy.

These six measures are coupled with advocacy (likelihood to recommend) and loyalty to generate the customer experience score. A score of 8+ means the brand is outstanding and in the US 24 brands achieved this score, but only 5 in the UK reached it.

*1: This is based on the average person in the UK being the customer of 0.48 outstanding brands (as measured by the above metric) in the last six months versus 2.86 for a customer in the US.

*2: Last year a customer in the US was ten times more likely to have a great experience than a customer in the UK.  

About the KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Centre

The KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Centre is the world’s largest customer experience think tank. Through an ongoing research programme across three continents over seven years, over 1.25 million consumer evaluations have been gathered.

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £1.96 billion in the year ended September 2015. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 174,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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