Credit unions, the National Concert Hall and Dublin Zoo have emerged as the strongest Irish organisations for “customer experience”, according to a survey published by Customer Experience Insights (CEXi).

The credit unions were ranked first in the poll of more than 2,700 people.

CEXi director Inga Ryan attributed the success of the credit unions to their ethos and the fact that they are embedded in the communities in which they operate.

“Like most of the top performers they scored very highly on empathy, which is something you can’t buy or recreate through advertising” she said.

The National Concert Hall and Dublin Zoo took second and third place respectively, followed by two retailers, German-owned discounter Aldi and British chemist chain Boots,now owned by a US-based holding company.

Butlers Chocolates and RaboDirect came joint sixth, with An Post eighth, Penneys ninth and Hailo and Lloyds Pharmacy in joint 10th.

The survey was carried out for CEXi by Amárach Research based on a template provided by KPMG Nunwood. The survey is based on six core elements of customer experience: personalisation, integrity, time and effort, expectations, resolution and empathy.

The strong performance of retail and several supermarket chains was one of the clear trends uncovered by the survey, according to Gerard O’Neill of Amárach Research.

“Overall they took 13 of the top 30 places. Notable here was the strong performance of the pharmacy sector. We think this comes down to the personalised attention they give customers and the fact they are growing their area of expertise.”

Low-price retailers such as Aldi, Penneys and Lidl also scored well across several customer experience categories, including quality of service and empathy. “Being cheap and cheerful does not mean you can’t also deliver great customer experience,” he said.

Utilities scored poorly in the survey. While An Post made the top 10, Irish Water unsurprisingly failed to make the top 100. Irish companies recorded the lowest scores in the “expectations” category.

“It is clear many are failing to live up to their own promises,” said Mr O’Neill.