• James Williamson, Assistant Manager |
4 min read

In November, we launched our 14th annual UK Customer Experience Excellence Report. The report analyses data from over 13,000 UK customers to rank 376 organisations on the quality of the experiences they deliver.

Amid squeezed costs, 2023 was a challenging year for most organisations, with the average experience declining by 3.8% since 2022. This isn’t just a UK issue – this decline is mirrored in 19 of 21 countries included in our global research spanning 81,725 consumers.

However, the cost of living isn’t the only factor at play. Often, organisations are using tech as a substitute for human interaction with customers, whether emotionally they require human contact or not. This risk putting a barrier between customers and the help they’re seeking, and, in many cases, initial implementations have left customers feeling underwhelmed and frustrated.

Organisations’ ability to humanise their digital channels is particularly key, as emerging AI technologies have already begun to change the rules of the game. Those at the forefront are implementing AI to deliver real human value to customers, at a low cost, as safely as possible.

Amid this revolution in customer experience, our 2023 report takes an additional focus on AI, looking at how those at the forefront are using AI as a virtual colleague to improve customer experience while also saving on costs.

The best customer experiences in 2023

In this year’s CX rankings, the top 10 is dominated by Financial Services and Non-Grocery Retailers. Although loyalty fell across the board, these two sectors were among the most resilient in maintaining the quality of their experiences.

Returning to #1 in our rankings is online and telephone bank, first direct – a position it’s held in 12 of our last 13 surveys. The bank has become highly data-driven, allowing it to proactively anticipate customers’ needs. As a result, the bank delivers personalised, intelligent experiences, including through its AI-enabled banking function.

Meanwhile, joining the top 10 for the first time is high street optometrist, Vision Express. Ranking 10th, Vision Express is valued by customers for its friendly, professional and caring staff. Behind the scenes, the organisation has invested in its own technology centre, and its new system enables optometrists to provide a near-bespoke service for every customer.

How are organisations using AI to get ahead?

CX leaders are fighting the overall decline in experience, while saving on costs, by deploying new ‘AI colleagues’ to serve customers more effectively and efficiently than ever before.

Through our new AI Adoption Index, we’ve analysed which sectors are leading the way in onboarding AI colleagues successfully and safely, and how it will impact the customer’s experience. Here, Financial Services leads the way.

For example, American Express, ranking 3rd for CX this year, is increasingly adopting AI across the breadth of its day-to-day operations. It has begun to identify use cases for AI across areas such as customer service and fraud detection, while it will soon launch a new predictive search capability which will seek to understand a wide range of customer scenarios.

While there’s huge potential to save on costs at the same time as delivering real value to customers, there are distinct challenges to AI adoption to minimise risk and preserve trust.

To mitigate this, the idea of an ‘AI colleague’ recognises AI not merely as a tech implementation challenge, but a wider cultural disruption. Our report this year distils the best practice, exploring how to connect AI to the core of how the enterprise works.

The Six Pillars – what makes a great customer experience?

Our understanding and analysis of customer experience is based on The Six Pillars of Experience. Defined from millions of customer evaluations, these pillars are the lens through which we ask customers to evaluate their interactions with organisations.

Getting The Six Pillars right isn’t just about delivering world class experience to customers but is key to driving business growth. Organisations ranked in the top 10 in previous years have seen 10x the revenue growth vs. their FTSE 100 counterparts.1

The Six Pillars of Experience:

  • Integrity: Being trustworthy and engendering trust
  • Resolution: Turning a poor experience into a great one
  • Expectations: Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations

  • Time & Effort: Minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes
  • Personalisation: Using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection
  • Empathy: Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive rapport

In an AI future, The Six Pillars will be more important than ever as they help define how experiences should be humanised to create an emotional connection with customers.

Navigating safely to an AI future

Leading organisations have discovered that successfully onboarding ‘AI colleagues’ requires an enterprise-wide commitment to working differently.

As organisations come to terms with this new technology, for many it’s difficult to know where to start. To help with this, our report breaks down the elements of successful, enterprise-led AI implementation.

For more detail on how leading organisations are adopting AI and driving world-leading customer experience, you can read our full report here.

[1] KPMG CEE 2020