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First Direct named customer service champion by Which?

Written by: Emma Lunn
But “sneaky and greedy” Ryanair came in last place.

A survey by consumer group Which? questioned nearly 4,000 people about the customer service they’ve received various sectors including banks, retailers, airlines, telecoms and energy providers.

Respondents rated how valued companies made them feel, how helpful and knowledgeable staff were, and how well they handled complaints.

HSBC-subsidiary First Direct topped the poll with a score of 89 per cent, finishing narrowly ahead of retailers Lakeland (87 per cent) and Marks & Spencer (86 per cent). Waitrose and Waterstones came in joint fourth place, both scoring 85 per cent.

Two-thirds of respondents gave First Direct the highest rating possible for the attitude of its staff, with one customer telling Which? that the bank’s “human touch” sets it apart from the rest. The online bank recently scrapped its £10 a month fee for the 1st Account.

Banks were the best sector for customer service in several areas: staff knowledge, attitude and helpfulness. Nationwide had the second-highest score in the banking sector of 83 per cent, while the lowest-rated bank was RBS with 69 per cent.

Ryanair voted the worse firm

Budget airline Ryanair was rated the worst firm by Which? respondents for customer service. Passengers were left feeling undervalued by unhelpful staff and terrible complaints-handling. When asked about how well the airline handles complaints, half (50 per cent) gave it the lowest rating possible.

Presented with a choice of 50 words to describe the airline, most of Ryanair’s passengers opted for “greedy”, “sneaky” and “arrogant”.

Ryanair pilots have been on strike for the past two days (22 and 23 August) with more strike action planned for 2 to 4 September.

Airlines received the lowest average score across all of the sectors. The sector’s results were dragged down by Ryanair’s poor score, but even the best rated airline – easyJet – only made it into 79th place overall.

Poor showing from energy and telecoms firms

Which? also found that energy companies and telecoms providers frequently disappointed their customers.

While O2 made it into the top half of the rankings, EE, SSE, EDF Energy, Sky, Three, British Gas and Npower all fell in the lower half.

Five of the lowest-ranked companies overall were utility providers: Eon, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT and Scottish Power.

More than half of TalkTalk customers said they’d made a complaint in the past 12 months, while a third of Scottish Power customers described the energy company as “arrogant”.

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