There are significant differences between age groups in customer satisfaction related to services. The satisfaction of customers under the age of 35 is lower than that of customers over the age of 50 in nearly every field. Of all the commercial industries, customers value the quality of grocery trade; however, the relative price experience is weaker. All in all, the highest customer satisfaction results were found in health services, hotels and grocery trade.

The Finnish Commerce Federation and Professor of Practice Lasse Mitronen from Aalto University studied customer satisfaction in various consumer services in Finland.*

“Companies must establish a better understanding of the consumer to develop their business strategies and compete in the digital world against major global operators,” says Professor of Practice Mitronen, explaining the necessity of customer satisfaction surveys.

“As nearly half of the population is 50 or older, it is important that companies know how to serve them. However, the considerable difference between the customer satisfaction of younger customers and those over the age of 50 is alarming,” says Chief Economist Jaana Kurjenoja from the Finnish Commerce Federation, analysing one of the key results from the survey.

Customers who are aged 50 of older are the most satisfied with health services, domestic long-distance transport, hotels and grocery trade. Those under the age of 25 are the most satisfied with chain restaurants and department store chains selling everyday utilities, but even in these categories, the satisfaction is behind that of the oldest age groups.

Customer satisfaction consists of experiences related to price and quality

Of all the commercial industries, customers particularly value the quality experience of grocery trade, the availability and placement of which is rated the best of all the surveyed sectors alongside hotels. Practical customer service is also successful in grocery trade.

Hardware stores receive the most criticism towards their practical customer service, and the youngest age groups in particular are more critical towards hardware store services than other services. Customers under the age of 35 give the lowest overall ratings for the services of fashion and hardware stores and domestic long-distance transport.

Large department store chains selling everyday utilities create an above-average price experience for their customers. Customers consider their price-quality ratio and the competitive strength of the prices compared to competitors the best in the commercial sector.

What is interesting, especially considering recent public discussion on food prices, is that the price experience in grocery trade is below the average of service industries. Consumers assess the relative price as better than average in only two out of ten grocery store chains.

“Only the age group of those aged 50 or older finds the price experience of grocery trade above average. The experiences of younger consumers, especially families with children, are quite different,” says Kurjenoja.

Customer satisfaction builds loyalty

Overall, customer satisfaction is weaker than average in many specialty fashion and sports shops and hardware stores, especially among young people. This may make digital consumers more likely to renounce Finnish shops for the benefit of foreign online stores.

“Brick-and-mortar stores should be able to provide all age groups with customer satisfaction that is at least as effective as that experienced by customers over the age of 50 in order to hold on to their customers and attract new, even young consumers,” says Kurjenoja.

“In the modern digital world, it is especially important to understand that customer satisfaction and customer experience build loyalty to the company. As the service satisfaction of the oldest customer groups is above average, they are also the most loyal customers,” says Mitronen.

Finland needs better consumer expertise

Developing understanding of consumers and customers should be listed high in the goals of both industrial policy and educational policy. Trade and services are the largest private employers in Finland, and their success and international competitive strength are essential for economic growth. Even in the export industry, technical expertise is insufficient if the operators do not understand their end users.

“Finland needs more and better consumer research as well as sales and marketing competence, starting with scientific institutions of higher education. The next Government should definitely pay attention to this,” says Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

Further information: Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi

* The customer satisfaction index observes the price and quality experiences of consumers, customer satisfaction, etc. in 78 chain businesses in nine different service industries: grocery trade, department stores and everyday and domestic utilities, fashion, sports and leisure trade, hardware stores, restaurant and café chains, hotel chains, domestic long-distance transport and medical services. The index consists of 14,234 customer reviews collected by Kantar TNS. The customer satisfaction index is part of the research cooperation between Professor of Practice Lasse Mitronen from Aalto University and the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi