What is Driving Customer Experience in the UK?

By: Susan Ganeshan

November 15, 2016

customer experience
customer satisfaction

The idea of customer expectations is something many of us would likely say we understand. As customers, we know the difference between a good experience and a bad one. We’ve all been there right? Maybe you’ve made a last-minute change to your flight. Or, you’ve tried to return that pair of shoes you swore would fit when you got home.

It makes sense that a good experience is one that lives up to your expectations. What you may not have guessed, however, is how dramatically customer expectations vary from country to country. What works in America doesn’t necessarily fly other places.

To better understand the perspective of consumers across the pond, Clarabridge conducted a study of how British consumers feel about customer experience in the UK. We surveyed over 1,150 individuals, ages 18 to 59. We uncovered what they see as good customer service, where brands are falling short, and which companies are getting it right. The results revealed a number of unexpected findings. So, as customer service experts, Clarabridge has a few recommendations to help UK companies moving forward – leading to stronger brands with loyal, happy customers.



how-longUK brands need to improve customer service over social media.  Only a third of problems that UK residents tweet at brands are resolved, and those that are handled have little sense of urgency. In today’s on-demand economy, consumers have little patience for slow service. UK businesses can’t afford to leave social customer service as a blind spot. Brands should consider implementing strategies to streamline responses to feedback across social media, for faster service and higher success rates.



frustrationCustomer service calls are a weak spot for UK brands. Three quarters of UK residents have placed customer service calls. However, their experiences leave much to be desired in terms of satisfaction. A mere 5% of customers felt “completely satisfied” with their call experience and more than half (64%) found their calls to be neutral to “not at all satisfying.” Call centers are responsible for 53% of customer’s biggest frustrations when interacting with brands/companies. Most consumers complain about long wait times and their inability to get a live person on the phone. This further underscores the missed opportunity of social customer service for UK brands. Solving issues over social channels like Twitter has the potential to reduce call center volume and save companies time and money. It would give companies a competitive edge by exceeding currently low customer expectations.


influenceJohn Lewis leads the pack as service still trumps price and product. Nearly half of all UK consumers state they would stop buying a brand’s products if a brand neglected to address their concerns. 100-year-old department store John Lewis led the way. 32% of UK consumers say the store has the best customer service, above any other brand. Tesco and Waitrose are also leaders in providing the kind of customer service consumers have grown to expect. Other brands can emulate the best practices of these industry leaders to build loyal and long-term customer bases, resulting in continued profitability.

While we are all consumers at heart, it is important to accurately align the customer experience with customer expectations. As our survey revealed, these expectations vary dramatically with geographical location. British consumers expect brands to be quick on their feet and reachable across platforms. Also, customers strongly link brand loyalty to customer service. As UK brands look to the future, they must consider how to react to changing customer expectations and needs. They must ensure consumers feel heard, understood, and cared for, wherever they decide to raise their voices.

To learn more, download the full report, “A Look at UK Customer Expectations in 2016.”


Susan Ganeshan is Clarabridge’s Chief Marketing Officer. Under Susan’s leadership, Clarabridge Marketing produces insightful, educational content that enables business leaders to deliver on the promise of best-in-class customer experience. Follow Susan on Twitter @sganeshan.