Learn from the UK's top 5 companies for customer service

8 Mins

Discover the from the UK's top 5 customer service companies and what processes they employ to achieve this status

The ways in which companies interact with their customers is constantly changing. With the birth of social media and the added contact points this creates between brands and their audiences, it’s important that the customer experience enjoyed by clients is top class, no matter where and how they interact with an organisation.

Customers have a greater choice than ever before when it comes to choosing services and products, and the visibility of the experience people and brands share is also vital in ensuring ongoing positive results. Success breeds success, particularly in an era where customers can share details of their experience in seconds.

For these reasons, it’s become increasingly important for brands to engineer a world class customer service model. But just improving the basics won’t help in the long run. The right people and the right service need to be integrated with automated experiences, technologically-enabled and effectively executed across all customer communication channels.

Fantastic customer experiences can lead to better performance for companies. The January 2018 UK Customer Satisfaction Index found that organisations with a customer satisfaction level of at least one point above their sector’s average enjoyed turnover growth of 9.1% on average in the last year.

In short, industry-leading customer service is intrinsically linked to boosting bottom lines. This is why Pareto have analysed the best companies in the UK for customer service to enable us to see where you can learn from those who are excelling in this area.

What is good customer service?

Speed and Handling of Complaints

When it comes to dealing with complaints, the speed in which they were handled and the way staff addressed the issues scored noticeable higher scores for those in the top quartile of organisations.

The speed at which a complaint was resolved was rated much higher (at 6.8 out of 10) for the upper quartile, while the remaining organisations averaged at 5.2. This suggests that a speedy resolution and the way in which a complaint is handled is all pivotal to delivering great customer service.

Customer Experience

Of course, customer experience is about so much more than just dealing with complaints.

From the first point of contact to the last, the customer has to feel like they are getting an experience that befits their needs. Whether they are enquiring about a product in-store or calling for after sale support, it’s important that the service they receive is seamless and tailored to the needs of their consumers.

Retailer John Lewis excels in this area, with customers even allowed to try products in the car park and research and transact with a member of staff without even returning to store, providing next level customer service that truly goes above and beyond to benefit the client.

Bespoke Service

No two customers are the same, and a valued client is one who’s likely to be retained.

There’s no substitute for personalisation when it comes to making someone feel that you value them. This is an area where First Direct, the “unexpected bank”, has excelled, with customer service staff given the tools to know, more often than not, what a customer is calling for, before they even answer the phone.

This proactive approach lets the client see you have their best interests at heart, and a knowledge of their needs, which reflects positively on the experience they enjoy as a whole.


Organisations which are easier to contact appear more frequently in the upper quartile of the customer service score.

Whether it’s having a responsive social media platform, short response times over the phone or the 24/7 approach that a number of top brands like First Direct have adopted, being able to contact a brand when it suits the consumer, not the organisation, goes a long way to improving the customer’s experience.

Reliability and Attitude of Staff

At the heart of your customer service offering is, of course, your staff. The way they tackle an issue represents your business, so ensuring their attitude reflects your values is essential.

Once you get them on board, they can transform your overall customer service offering.

The higher-ranking organisations in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index scored highly for doing what they say they’ll do, demonstrating an understanding of the customer’s issue and for the positive and helpful attitude of the staff, highlighting a clear correlation between the way in which a complaint is handled and the overall customer service score.


Best companies for customer service

Knowing what it takes to score highly on the index is the first step to achieving great customer service. However, putting that plan into practice is a different matter entirely.

To help get a grasp on how to become the best for customer service, we’ve looked into the top 5 companies on the Customer Satisfaction Index and explored what they do to reach the top.    

1. Amazon

Retail giant Amazon is top of the food chain when it comes to good customer service.

At the core of this chart-topping score is Jeff Bezos’ unrelenting appreciation of, and respect for, customer care. He noted that “if you make a customer unhappy in the physical world they will tell five people. Online they can tell 500 people."

Amazon has always sought to innovate with its customer experience offering, never more so than when it launched Mayday, a customer support option that allowed users of its Kindle Fire devices to video chat with an advisor, 24/7, absolutely free, at the touch of a button.

2. First Direct

First Direct has worked hard to establish a brand identity that sets it apart from the high street providers, even going as far as calling itself “the unexpected bank”.

This value is reflected in the customer experience it offers. From its buddy app spoof to its 24/7 helplines and its quick-fire responses on social media, First Direct is all about making customers feel valued, and its ability to think one step ahead, constantly striving to know why a customer is getting in touch without having to be told, has won the organisation numerous customer service awards.

First Direct’s insistence that we are a nation of talkers is reflected in its open communication channels. As such, its trophy cabinet is brimming with awards. In 2017 alone, the company won Best British Bank, Best Customer Service, Most Recommended Bank and plenty more.  

3. Yorkshire Bank 

Sitting at number three, Yorkshire Bank is the most improved organisation on the UK Customer Satisfaction Index list, with a 10 point increase on last year’s performance and a move from position 186 to 3.

It’s become clear that its core customer service values of getting the right person in front of the right customer at the right time is paying dividends. The bank has launched its own app, which focusses on creating a personal customer experience, making a big impression, as well as creating a variety of dedicated client facing teams who are best placed to deal with the right customer in the right way every time.

At the CFI.co Banking Awards, the judging panel awarded Yorkshire Bank the 2017 Best Digital Bank United Kingdom Award, which came as a direct result of its forward-thinking attitude and customer service values.

4. Superdrug

Health and beauty retailer Superdrug has also jumped into the top five this year.

Its success is underpinned by a promise to provide great customer service and an enjoyable, pleasant shopping experience every time. The company also expresses how much it values feedback and highlights regularly how integral customer service is to progression of the company.

Superdrug backs up this statement by taking a pro-active approach to customer complaints. it offers a broad spectrum of points of contact to make sure it performs highly in availability terms, including on social channels where staff can monitor issues and get in touch with customers when complaints or queries arise without missing a beat.

5. John Lewis

Retailer John Lewis has long been one of the leaders in terms of customer service, especially when it comes to in-store experiences.

Whether it’s allowing customers to test products before purchase, letting people apply to stay overnight at an in-store boutique hotel or host a dinner party, it’s a brand that has never been afraid to innovate in terms of how it treats consumers. John Lewis says that using its Residence project to promote its products in a more immersive setting allows customers an insight into products and services that can’t be found elsewhere.

The retailer evidently understands that interaction with customers is an ever-changing model, and its ability to dream up new ways to bring the experience in store to life has allowed it to lead the way in the eyes of consumers.

How to improve customer service

The Customer Satisfaction Index found that “high performing organisations tend to be characterised by proactive investment in their employees, technology, customer experience design and processes and the ability to integrate these elements to deliver strategic clarity and coherent operational outcomes."

Essentially, providing the highest quality customer service is all about getting the right people and services in front of customers when it matters. From strong leadership to innovation, insight to consistency, making sure that customers are always enjoying a bespoke, proactive, accessible experience is key to success.

To help you on your way to success in customer service, training courses are an excellent investment. Pareto offer apprenticeships for both team leadership and customer service skills to help you invest in the people who interact with your clients and help your organisation achieve the next level of approval.

Learn more about Customer Service Apprenticeships

Find out how employee retention could be the key to successful customer service.
Download our insight 'How to retain employees in a challenging market' and take your customer service to the next level.

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