Although there are signs of growth in many sectors, the environment in which we all work continues to be challenging and the marketplace remains uncertain, as does the global economic and political environment.
But just looking at the figures, there is a real opportunity, with the right focus and board level commitment, for the UK be seen as the global power house for customer service:
- 78% of UK GDP is generated by the service sector
- 25% of manufacturing companies revenues come from services
- Over 70% of UK employees dealing directly with customers in their daily jobs.
Against this backdrop, customer satisfaction, measured by the Institute’s UKCSI has continued to fall. UK customers are now, on average, less satisfied with the service they receive than at any point since July 2010. This presents a huge risk to business.
The latest UKCSI demonstrates that as customers, our expectations have grown still further. The speed of response and the requirement to be easy to do business with are growing in importance. But there is a critical point — it’s not just the speed or the final resolution that is important. It is the need for organisations to drive authentic relationships across all their activities. As customers we have become intolerant of poor service and are clearly making our voices heard, we are also less trusting. But companies have a real opportunity to retrieve the lost trust by genuinely focusing on the whole service experience.
So how can organisations respond to this dynamic environment?
By demonstrating leadership commitment to customer service – with a clear vision led from the top with board level accountability. Organisations need to measure the whole customer experience from the hygiene factors such as keeping our promises, to the level of ‘emotional engagement’ with the customer and being consistent in all their dealings with customers. In this changing world we need to invest in understanding our customers better, particularly changes in their preferences and behaviour.
I have seen a step change in customers now expecting to be involved in shaping the customer experience to make it more personal. There is a growing need for organisations to talk directly to the customer and co-create their products and services with them; entering into genuine dialogue. This means companies will need to work with all the other organisations that affect the whole service they deliver to customers. There is clear evidence from our research that where organisations measure themselves against other companies inside and outside of their sector, they do better and are more innovative.
Finally, we know that customer satisfaction and employee engagement are linked. So it’s important for companies to think about how they recruit and reward employees and invest in training and development. After all, employees are all customers and as customers’ preferences have changed so have our employees’ needs.
I genuinely believe that where organisations focus on these key aspects they will deliver a better customer experience and will perform better.