How important is customer service? I know a lot of people buy on price these days, whether it's tracking down the cheapest insurance or the lowest-charging credit card, but the quality of customer service (as murdered by Arabella Weir in The Fast Show, below) ranks very highly in my view.
That's because if you need to claim or have a problem, you want to be confident that the company you deal with will listen to you and respond properly.
Using a firm because it's cheap will leave you open to regrets if its subsequent poor customer service makes your life a misery. If you want to switch, for instance, you would like a prompt and efficient response. If you need to change your account, you expect it to be done properly, not messed up.
So the result of the latest Which? customer service survey, published this week, makes fascinating reading. It revealed that the big six energy firms are among the worst offenders and worst of all is nPower, whose customer satisfaction score was just 57 per cent. However, it had strong competition: its big six energy rival Scottish Power had a score of 58 per cent, just below last year's worst performer, Ryanair, on 59 per cent.
In fact all the big energy companies slipped into the bottom fifth of the table, with none of them scoring more than two stars for making customers feel valued.
The best company for customer service? The online bank First Direct with a score of 87 per cent, according to the survey. Others in the top five were Lush with 86 per cent, John Lewis (83 per cent), Lakeland (83 per cent) and Waitrose (83 per cent).
Have you examples of remarkable customer service, good or bad? I would love to hear about them.