Only one grocer, online supermarket Ocado, was ranked above the Co-op in the index, which rates customer satisfaction across 13 sectors, incorporating the views of 10,000 consumers and over 240 brands. Published by the Institute of Customer Service, the index takes into account five dimensions: experiences with organisations; complaint handling; and perceptions about an organisation’s customer ethos; emotional connection; and ethical behaviour.
The index praised the Co-op for making improvements in both customer satisfaction and convenience sales growth, where it has enjoyed five years of consecutive like for like growth. Co-op Food achieved sales growth of 4.5% in 2019, outperforming the sector average of 2.0%.
According to the index, Co-op Food is the most improved supermarket in the food retail sector, despite the average food retail sector customer satisfaction falling year on year by 1.1 points, to 80.1.
The report highlights that in January 2019, Co-op Food exceeded the sector average customer satisfaction for the first time. A total of 11 companies in food retail received a UKCSI score but only Co-op Food improved its score (by 2.5 points) compared to a year ago.
Chris Whitfield, chief operating officer, Co-op Food, said: “Our ambition is for all of our stores to be at the heart of local life, connecting communities, creating value locally and bringing people together. Our members and customers expect us to deliver what they want, need and care about – and we are dedicated to doing just that. We are delighted with the findings, and while there is always more that needs to be done, they illustrate outcomes of continued investment in our people, product development, store improvement, supplier relationships and communities.”
Joanna Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, explained that in a highly competitive sector where service levels are on the whole declining, focusing on delivering a brilliant end-to-end experience is increasingly important.
She added: “Our previous research shows a correlation between sustained levels of high customer satisfaction and increased sales, market share and repeat custom. Co-op Food is showing the benefits of getting service right for customers – with a strong performance in the UK Customer Service Index also being reflected in its financial performance.”
The Co-op Group was also one of the top rated organisations for ethics, along with employee owned John Lewis. The index looked at the reputation, openness and transparency and the extent to which an organisation is deemed to “do the right thing”.