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Marks and Spencers comes out on top in customer satisfaction study

By Rachel Douglass

23 Aug 2021

Retail

Image: Pickawood

Consumer research organisation Which? has been on the hunt to uncover the best and worst of online retail customer service.

A recent survey examined a total of 5,000 consumer responses, each with order issues that caused them to contact customer service at a wide range of online retailers throughout the UK. Each retailer was ranked with up to five stars in a total of six categories, such as ‘Access to customer support’ and ‘Making the issue raising process straightforward.’

Marks and Spencers charges ahead

Department store retailer Marks and Spencers topped the survey for clothing stores, receiving five stars across the board, including in ‘Speed of dealing with your issue’ and ‘Efficiency of resolving issue.’ According to the results, as many as 86 percent of Marks and Spencers customers reported they were happy with the solution offered to their problem, with Which? suggesting this could be down to its 12 hour daily phone line.

Next, John Lewis and Schuh followed closely behind, with each one showing consistently positive results throughout the specified categories.

“The pandemic saw some of the best and worst of customer service,” said Which? customer rights expert Adam French, in a survey summary. “But with online shopping now becoming the norm, we should get the same level of customer service when shopping online as when shopping in store. With the extraordinary growth in online shopping set to continue as we emerge from the pandemic, retailers who are falling short must up their game to make sure no one is left frustrated and out of pocket because of bad customer service.”

Sports Direct bottom of the pack

Sports Direct, Debenhams, JD Sports and SheIn fell to the bottom of the pile, each only scoring one star for ‘Helpfulness of customer support staff’ as well as two stars or less for ‘Overall customer service.’

One in five Sports Direct customers surveyed said they were unlikely to shop there again after experiencing unhelpful customer service, labelling delivery failures as the most common problem. The same was said for JD Sports, with one customer saying they lost out on 60 pounds when they couldn’t get in touch with anyone about a missing order.

“Our logistics and customer service operations were faced with a unique set of challenges during this time period,” a spokesperson for JD Sports said in a response to the survey. “The forced closure of our stores during the national lockdowns stimulated a significant surge in online sales channels.”

The company has since made a number of improvements to its operations causing a rise in its Trustpilot ratings, according to the spokesperson.

As the demand for online shopping advances, customer experiences continue to affect how they interact with retailers. One in ten customers who experienced a problem said they were unlikely to return to the retailer that the issue originated at, with seven in ten saying they felt more loyal when the retailer had been reliable throughout the pandemic.