Customers more satisfied with info-communications sector this year

SINGAPORE - A nationwide survey on customer satisfaction has found that customers were generally happier with the info-communications sector in 2017 compared with the year before (2016).

Meanwhile, satisfaction levels in the retail sector stayed similar to last year's, the latest Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore, released on Wednesday (June 28), has found.

The info-communications sector scored a record high of 69.6 points out of 100, up 1.6 per cent, while the retail sector scored 72.1 points, said the Institute of Service Excellence at the Singapore Management University (ISE), which compiled the index.

Feedback was gathered from 6,900 locals and tourists between January and April 2017.

In the info-communications sector, ISE found that service attributes relating to responsiveness, assurance and empathy were key drivers of loyalty among mobile telecoms and broadband customers, in addition to the usual product-related attributes such as suitable subscription plans and fast data speeds.

"While competitive product features will continue to play a big part in keeping customers, it is notable that service-related considerations such as 'Makes the effort to understand your needs' and 'Has your best interest at heart' has surfaced as important attributes to drive customer loyalty," said ISE head of research and consulting, Mr Chen Yongchang.

Of the four retail sub-sectors surveyed, only the department store sub-sector showed significant improvement. Metro, in particular, was the only entity whose score increased significantly. The fashion apparel, supermarkets and e-commerce sub-sectors did not see any significant change in scores.

"The notable improvement in customer satisfaction with department stores stemmed largely from more satisfied locals," said Ms Neeta Lachmandas, ISE executive director. "This increase could be related to the revamps of various stores and product offerings, as well as increased promotional activities targeted at boosting sales."

The survey also found that going omni-channel allows department stores to compete with e-commerce stores.

Department store customers who used the stores' websites or mobile apps tend to have higher levels of customer loyalty than customers who shop on e-commerce sites such as Zalora and Groupon.

"This would suggest that traditional bricks-and-mortar stores could be better served and complemented by developing a robust omni-channel presence if they have not already done so. It can potentially give them a competitive edge over the e-commerce retailers," said Mr Chen.

Another notable observation was that among supermarket customers, those who frequently used self-checkout counters were more satisfied than those who mostly used manned cashier counters.

Said Mr Chen: "Offering retail customers more ways to shop, whether through online channels or self-checkout counters, could enhance the customer experience, thereby positively impacting customers satisfaction and loyalty."