British consumers are more willing to recommend brands that provide good service, responsiveness, and that make doing business with them easier, according to the Satmetrix 'European Net Promoter Industry Benchmark' report for banking, car insurance, ISPs, mobile networks, mobile handsets, computers, health insurance, and travel websites. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The benchmarks were based on detailed responses from nearly 34,000 European consumers, including 10,995 from the UK, all of whom purchased products or services from each respective company within the previous 12 months. The study evaluated Net Promoter Score (NPS) rankings and the underlying drivers of loyalty for eight industry sectors, as follows:

  1. Banking
    First Direct once again claims the top spot in the banking sector with an impressive NPS of 62, having also led the 2011 Benchmarks with 61 points. The specific drivers for which First Direct received positive feedback were the company's reputation as well as good customer service. There is no change in second position with Nationwide once again claiming this spot with 33 points, a five point improvement on its NPS in 2011. NatWest overtakes HSBC to claim the third position in this year's Benchmarks with 16 points, an impressive improvement on its -4 NPS in 2011. HSBC is in fourth position whilst Barclays finishes fifth, but claims the accolade of the most improved NPS in the banking sector with a huge 29 point increase compared to last year. Interestingly, the banking sector companies left customers unhappy with the value for money they had received.
  2. Auto Insurance
    Direct Line takes first place in the auto insurance Benchmarks with an NPS of 20, just two points ahead of Tesco, whose auto insurance offering takes second place. Both received positive customer feedback on their buying experience, as well as for the ease of doing business with them. The auto insurance industry overall has made huge strides since last year's Benchmarks with the industry average NPS growing from -5 up to 8. The biggest improvement is AA increasing its NPS from -10 in 2011 to 26 in 2012, a huge increase of 36 points. Direct Line has also improved considerably with an increase of 20 points, whilst Churchill has gone from an NPS of -2 in 2011, to 17 this year. The Benchmarks data reveals the biggest drivers in the auto insurance sector are product or service reliability, online experience and overall value.
  3. Health Insurance
    Simplyhealth is the clear cut winner within health insurance, a new sector in the Benchmarks, with an NPS of 29, 22 points more than the NPS of Bupa which takes second place. Simplyhealth is praised mostly by customers for its ease of doing business, whilst Bupa is revealed to be driving loyalty mainly through the online experience, although overall value was cited as unsatisfactory. Pruhealth scores the lowest with an NPS of -9, 38 points lower than sector winner Simplyhealth, as well as 14 points lower than the sector average of five NPS points. The health insurance industry overall is revealed to be performing well in terms of the various companies' overall reputations and the ease of doing business, which are indicated to be the top two drivers.
  4. Internet Service Providers
    Virgin Media narrowly edges past previous winner, Sky, to place in first position with an NPS of 16, ahead of Sky's 15. Both receive positive feedback for their product or service features, but Virgin Media is deemed to offer a superior buying experience. Orange ranks in fifth position and is the only internet service provider to receive a lower NPS in 2012 than last year, with a decrease from -4 to -11. However, it's AOL who finishes in the bottom position with a score of -11. Interestingly, the average NPS in the internet service provider sector is zero, meaning AOL's score of -11 does not seem quite so poor when considered in context. The Benchmarks data reveals that the internet sector receives most criticism for customer service and ease of doing business.
  5. Mobile Phone Networks
    In the highly competitive mobile telecoms market, Tesco Mobile claims the top position with an impressive NPS of 47, 27 more points than the average score for the sector, and 13 points ahead of the second placing company, O2. Both companies claimed the same positions last year and have both improved their NPS, Tesco Mobile by 19 points and O2 by 13. 3 Mobile once again finishes last having also ranked in the bottom spot in 2011. In terms of the key satisfaction drivers in the mobile network sector ease of doing business and product or service reliability receive the most positive feedback, whilst the online experience and customer service are earmarked as areas which have the biggest room for improvement.
  6. Mobile Phone Handsets
    The Apple iPhone again claims the top spot in the mobile phone category with an impressive NPS of 69, taking a comfortable lead on Samsung in second place with an NPS of 49. BlackBerry manufacturer, RIM, falls dramatically to sixth place with an NPS of 18, having been in second place in 2011. Motorola and LG finish in the bottom two places, both scoring a lowly -5. This sector is also measured by SparkScore, the social Net Promoter metric, which monitors social media for customer feedback on products and services, and can link sentiment to sales performance.
  7. Computer Hardware (PCs, laptops and handheld devices)
    Apple takes the crown in the computer hardware category, which is also measured by SparkScore, with an NPS of 59 comfortably beating Sony's second place ranking with a score of 44. Both companies also took the top two spots in the 2011 Benchmarks, although Sony has increased its NPS, whilst Apple has decreased from 69 to 59. Acer claims the bronze medal in the computer hardware category with an NPS of 33, a massive increase on its score of 12 in 2011. However, the results in the computer hardware category suggest a predominantly strong performance as a sector overall, with the average NPS being 38, just eight points more than Toshiba which ranked in the lowest position, having been in third place last year. The biggest satisfaction drivers in the computer hardware sector are revealed to be product and service reliability and customer service, whilst ease of doing business and overall value score lowest.
  8. Travel Websites
    Another new sector in the Satmetrix Benchmarks is travel websites with TripAdvisor emerging as the top choice for customer experience in this category with an NPS of 29, just ahead of Booking.com in second place with 25 points. The remaining travel websites are ranked as follows: Lastminute.com, Expedia, Ebookers.com, Kuoni, Travelocity and Hotels.com in last place with a score of -10. This sector is the final of the four sectors currently measured by SparkScore, taking in customer comments made via social media in relation to hotels they have stayed in, as well as airlines.