The travel industry’s strong track record in complaint-handling was championed this week on national radio.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme, Cosmos chief executive Giles Hawke, who is also non-executive director of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), said the travel industry, alongside the leisure and retail sectors, dealt with customer complaints the “right way”.

He was speaking after the publication of the ICS’s Customer Satisfaction Index in July, which ranked 11 travel companies, including Jet2holidays, P&O Cruises and Expedia, among the top-50 organisations in the UK.

“Those [sectors] doing well are doing the right things by their customers and approaching complaints and issues in the right way,” Hawke said.

“A lot of the approach around complaints is to try and prevent them happening in the first place.

“Sectors performing well include travel, retail, leisure and insurance.”

The ICS surveys about 10,000 people twice a year. Consumers are asked to rate companies across 25 metrics including employee professionalism, product and service quality, ease of dealing with the organisation, complaint-handling, timeliness, attitudes around trust and reputation, and consumer perception of company business ethos.

However, the ICS has reported an overall drop in customer satisfaction nationally over the last two years.

“A large part of that is around companies not delivering what they say they will do,” said Hawke.

“So it might be they say they will be there at a certain time, or do something very specific and not deliver that.

“It’s the basic, fundamental part of the service with which people are having the biggest issues, and we feel it’s leading to that drop [in overall customer satisfaction score].”

Despite consumers being able to complain through more avenues such as social media, more than 58% of complaints are still made via traditional methods.

ICS research revealed that companies that handle complaints effectively can turn the customer into a brand advocate.

ListenCall You and Yours: How do you complain effectively? [External]