The insurance industry ranks bottom in providing the best customer experience, according to a survey.
A survey of 1,024 adults conducted by consultants Engine found of the 14 sectors covered in the study, only 11% of respondents said insurance was a sector with the best customer service.
Retail was ranked first with 38% of people having the best customer experience, followed by hotels/hospitality and food service/restaurants, with 37% and 35% of people citing them respectively.
The insurance sector was also behind fellow financial service banking, currently ranked sixth place with 23% of respondents having the best customer service.
Oliver King, co-founder of Engine, said: "Insurance suffers from two key problems in terms of customer experience. It's a product people are obliged to have rather than want. Plus, on the rare occasions they do interact with the provider, it normally has negative connotations - either going through the sometimes onerous claims process or receiving a renewal notice, often accompanied by an increase in premium.
"To compound the situation, customers are unaware of the complexity of current underwriting and claims processes, so their expectations of a simple and speedy settlement are high."
Insurance was also ranked 11th in terms of where customers' choice of provider is most strongly influenced by the quality of service and customer experience, with 16% citing the sector. Banking was ranked fourth, cited by 26% of respondents. Food services/restaurants is the sector most affected by customer services, as cited by 35% of people.
King said both life and non-life firms needed to adapt to changes taking place in the sector.
He said: "With general insurance customers being actively encouraged to switch each year, the pensions industry shake up and life insurers developing lifestyle propositions, insurance companies need to adapt and respond to the changing industry environment and customers' expectations. Insurers need only look to financial service stablemates in banking to see the benefits a focus on customer experience can bring."
The survey also reported openness/honesty was the trait most valued by customers, as chosen by 49% of respondents, followed by efficiency (43%) and reliability (41%). It said these traits became a bigger factor with age.
King said insurers needed to tailor customer experience accordingly to each customer.
"Insurers can't afford to think about what's important to their 'average customer' - that person doesn't exist," said King.
"Instead, they need to think of the different customer profiles and tailor the experience accordingly for each one. For instance, older people put greater emphasis on the experience being honest, efficient and reliable, while the younger generation put more store on it being flexible and enjoyable."
Sectors and percentage of customers having best customer service:
1. Retail - 38%
2. Hotels/hospitality - 37%
3. Food service/restaurants - 35%
4. Technology - 24%
5. Leisure - 24%
6. Banking - 23%
7. Air travel - 20%
8. Public services - 18%
9. Broadband/media - 17%
10. Mobile - 15%
11. Public transport - 14%
12. Utilities - 12%
13. Automotive -12%
14. Insurance - 11%