The companies that treat their customers best (and worst)

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First Direct is the company giving the best customer experience in Britain, according to research from specialist consultancy Nunwood.

And it's not the only bank to move up the rankings, showing that financial institutions are finally improving the service they offer their customers. Prudential shot up 163 places in the list, and American Express 123.

"Particularly standing out against the industry for demonstrating empathy and its approach to resolution, consumers praised the seamless service across online and telephony," says Nunwood.

"Citing staff knowledge, their ability to answer the phone quickly without the need to navigate a telephony routing system, and power to deal with non-standard procedures at their discretion, as key factors in an outstanding customer experience."

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Supermarkets struggle

But while financial institutions have improved their customer service over the last year, supermarkets have done rather less well. It's the mid-market retailers who have failed most to deliver good service, with Asda dropping eight places to come 25th, while Tesco is down 13 places to 60th. Discounters Aldi and Lidl have shown big improvements, with Aldi rising five places to come 15th and Lidl up 20 at 33rd.

But it's Marks & Spencer, in sixth place overall, that Nunwood describes as the true champion of the supermarket sector when it comes to customer service.

"As with the other brands in the top 10, the retailer excels in the pillars of personalisation and time and effort, but it also scores highly in the pillar of integrity, where it achieves an excellent 8.07. This is perhaps unsurprising for a company that has already built a solid foundation of trust amongst visitors to its clothes stores, many of whom hold the retailer in high regard," says Craig Ryder of Nunwood.

"It is clear from the customer experience analytics that M&S Food, along with its rivals Ocado and Waitrose, can teach the grocery retail sector a lot about the importance of a customer experience built on personalisation, time saving, and integrity."

At the other end of the scale, Butlins was the biggest faller in the rankings, dropping 85 places to 99th. It seems that customers no longer see it as good value for money: they're particularly irritated by unexpected extra charges, long queues and a shortage of staff, says Nunwood. Meanwhile, Virgin Holidays fell 67 places to 96th, and Play dropped 40 places to 87th.

Nunwood's customer experience top 10

Rank Brand

1 First Direct
2 John Lewis
4 Lush
5 Amazon
7 Waitrose
8 Nationwide
9 Specsavers
10 M&S

Biggest fallers in top 100
Rank Brand Drop

99 Butlins 85 places
96 Virgin Holidays 67
87 Play 40
94 TravelRepublic 39
67 Mothercare 33
87 New Look 32
53 Argos 30
64 Green Flag 30
94 Pizza Hut 27
36 Tesco Mobile 24

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