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Customers more satisfied with finance & insurance, healthcare sectors last year

A NATIONWIDE survey on customer satisfaction found customers were generally happier with the finance and insurance industry and healthcare sector last year than they were a year ago.

The improvements in customer satisfaction in these sectors drove the overall or national score on customer satisfaction for 2017 to a new high of 72.9 points out of a 100, up from 71.8 points in 2016.

The scoring was conducted by Singapore Management University's (SMU's) Institute of Service Excellence (ISE), which surveyed customers for different sectors over the course of last year. The earlier quarters covered the retail & info-communications, transport and food & beverage and tourism sectors.

Singapore's finance and insurance industry scored 73.4 points, an increase of 1.05 points from its 2016 score of 72.4 points.

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Banks, credit cards, and health and medical insurance sub-sectors registered improvements in customer satisfaction scores while life insurance, and motor and other personal insurance did not see changes in customer satisfaction scores from the year before, ISE said.

ISE found banking customers who were users of internet banking or banking mobile applications were more likely to report high levels of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty compared to those who did not.

In addition, customers who used these digital channels also have on average a higher number of products held with the same bank, ISE added.

Said Neeta Lachmandas, executive director , ISE: "There appears to be a positive relationship between usage of digital channels and higher scores across various customer metrics including satisfaction, loyalty, and number of products held with the bank. This is certainly an encouraging sign for banks that have been pushing for digital adoption."

Within the insurance sector, customers surveyed were least satisfied by service received when dealing with contact centres in the life insurance and health and medical insurance sub-sectors.

For life insurance customers who interacted with a contact centre, satisfaction score was 69.1 points compared to 73 points for those who did not interact with contact centre.

Similarly for health and medical insurance customers, customer satisfaction was scored at 67.8 points compared to 72.2 points for those who did not interact with contact centre.

Said Chen Yongchang, ISE head of research and consulting: "Insurers may wish to consider how they could better resolve customers issues through the contact centre by improving areas such as staff knowledge and professionalism."

Meanwhile, ISE found improvements in customer satisfaction within the healthcare sector, which scored 71.8 points, up from 71 points in 2016.

While the waiting time taken before undergoing a medical test or seeing a doctor' continues to receive low satisfaction ratings, year-on-year improvements have been observed for other attributes such as 'ease of getting around' and 'waiting experience', ISE said.

"Healthcare providers may wish to consider enhancing this aspect further. Rather than being merely a comfortable holding area, waiting rooms could be transformed into patient education centres that can teach patients how to improve their health outcomes," added Mr Chen.

ISE said how a complaint is handled can swing a company's customer satisfaction score markedly.

Although the proportion of complaints for the healthcare sector small at 1.5 per cent of all 3,540 healthcare customers surveyed, the difference in customer satisfaction scores given by those whose complaints were considered well-handled or poorly handled was pronounced, ISE said.

Customers whose complaints were deemed to be "handled well" scored 73.4 points in customer satisfaction compared to only 28.6 points among those whose complaints were assessed to be "handled poorly".