Insurers scorned as credit unions get top customer ratings
Huge hikes in premiums and difficult to understand products has made insurance companies the worst performing sector for customer service, new research has shown.
None of the 10 Irish car insurers made it into the top 100 brands for customer experience, according to a report from consumer insights firm CXi.
Companies were ranked across six different areas: personalisation, time and effort, integrity, empathy, expectations, and resolution.
The insurers struggled in personalisation and integrity but fared worst under the empathy category.
The survey, which was conducted by Amárach Research, found credit unions rated best by consumers for customer experience. The research examined over 42,000 cases across 170 brands.
CXi's Michael Killeen said credit unions did well at putting customers at the heart of everything they do. "All 339 credit unions share the same ethos," Mr Killeen said.
"They are a customer-centric business and their culture, behaviours and activity flow from this. Looking after members comes naturally to staff, while trust is at the heart of their customer relationships.
"The local community dynamic and personal relationships are also highly valued in Ireland," he added.
"It helps to explain why credit unions, An Post, pharmacies and hairdressing salons all feature among the best performers in the survey," Mr Killeen said.
Strikingly, US firms Burger King and Starbucks found themselves tied at number 100.
Elsewhere, the Luas's 12 days of halted service during the summer caused one of the country's top performers to fall out of the top 100 altogether. The public transport firm was previously 22nd on the list.
Another company that remains outside of the top 100 is Dublin Bus. The bus service is currently suffering strike stoppages as drivers take action in a bid for increased pay.
CXi's Cathy Summers said it will have significant impact on the public's perception of the company.
"Industrial action is also possible at Bus Éireann, 95th on the list," Ms Summers said.
"One of their direct competitors, CityLink, at number five, is one of the best performers, which will undoubtedly add to the debate on private versus public bus services and proposed changes to the operations of Bus Éireann's Expressway."
Ryanair's 'Always Getting Better' programme has worked for the airline which placed in the top 100 for the first time.
"Its new approach to customer experience, improvements to its digital platforms and cabin baggage policy are making an impression with customers. While Aer Lingus has slipped a few places, it's still comfortably ahead of its rival at number 28," Ms Summers said.
While indigenous firms scored well, Ireland still has ground to make up on the US and the UK for customer service, according to the data. The country's overall score in 2016 is up, with five of Ireland's top brands able to make it in the UK's top 10. One of the main findings from CXi's research is that Irish firms are falling down on expectations, meaning they are promising more than they can deliver.
This year was the first time CXi included the public sector. Despite a rush for applications from Britain in the wake of the Brexit vote in June, the Passport Office was the top-ranking body, at 32nd. The office was praised for its simple online application service and online tracking tool.