Headlines: August 21st, 2009

Satisfaction with customer services in the public sector continues to trail the private sector. The latest survey by the Institute of Customer Service shows public services near the bottom of the league table which is led by tourism and retail. Overall, customer satisfaction levels are rising in the UK with an average rating of 74 up from 72 in the previous study.

The survey shows variation in levels of customer satisfaction with local services performing better than national services. The fire and ambulance services are among the top five organisations in the index. However local councils achieved the worst individual score in any of the 13 sectors polled by the Institute. The satisfaction rating has fallen to just 55.5, from 58 in the previous survey six months ago.

The survey asked respondents to rate services in key attributes. The overall satisfaction level with the index of professionalism was 73.3. For fire services it was 87.9, for GPs 78.6, for police 68.3 and for local councils 57.2

For problem solving the index shows fire services 90.5, GPs 75.1, police 59.1 and local councils 53.0. Generally, public services are scoring badly for complaints handling, speed of service and being treated, as a valued customer.

The Institute’s chief executive Jo Causon said: “It is clear the public sector is playing catch-up, with the private sector performing better on the whole at customer satisfaction. However it is not falling further behind and there are exceptions to the rule with the fire and ambulance services achieving world class ratings, often in high stress and traumatic situations.