UK survey looks into consumer complaints and churn

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on April 6, 2006

Power supplier price changes are forcing an increasingly large number of households in the UK to consider switching supplier, according to the annual 'Service in Britain' survey from Research Now, which examined consumer complaints and churn twenty market sectors.

According to the survey, the majority of UK households have switched supplier since the energy markets deregulated, and almost one-third (32%) of households are now seriously considering a switch of power supplier. Consumers aged 25 to 45 were found to be the most likely to churn.

Key findings
Further highlights from the second annual Service in Britain survey included:

  • The total number of complaints to all companies is down slightly from the previous year's survey, although 80% of consumers still make at least one complaint a year;
  • The average person complains about products or services 9 times a year. Only 18% could think of no complaint occasion at all within the past 12 months, while one-third complained on at least ten occasions. Those who felt like complaining but "didn't get around to it" counted at least 20 occasions;
  • Those under 35 years old are most likely to complain, while those aged 65 or more are far less likely to complain. According to Research Now, this suggests a mixture of resignation, lack of information, and vulnerability to bad service providers as consumers get older;
  • Men, and all consumers in the North of England and Scotland, reported higher complaint levels than other consumers;
  • Of the 20 industry sectors covered on the survey, the highest proportion of people complain to power and other utilities, supermarkets, telecoms and mobile providers and TV/internet service suppliers;
  • While supermarkets are able to resolve issues and have strong scores for satisfaction and loyalty, power companies have the weakest relationships.

Supermarkets win loyalty
The survey looked at claimed loyalty to a specified main service provider in five industries. Of these, supermarkets were found to have the highest levels of genuine loyalty. In contrast, far higher proportions of bank, mobile airtime, and broadband customers appear to be resigned to staying with their supplier and simply "don't want the hassle" of considering a change.

People were least satisfied with the value they get from train and bus companies and their local council, with around one-quarter giving a very poor value satisfaction rating in each case. Ratings for customer service followed a similar pattern.

The report
The survey examined satisfaction, loyalty and complaints information for all main service categories, and was developed in association with the National Consumer Council. All 1,051 respondents were members of the Research Now online panel of consumers, aged 18 or over. The full report can be purchased from Research Now.

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