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It was a real pleasure to see so many of you at our Annual Conference this past week. Each year, I’m humbled by the collective commitment to service excellence. This year was no different, as the many stories and successes shared throughout the day (and night!) evidenced.

This year’s conference was particularly poignant. We’ve all faced extraordinary challenges over the past year—social, economic, regulatory, and technological. Yet, the resilience and innovative strategies you’ve shared give us hope and a clear direction for the future.

Reflecting on the conversations I had during the conference, I am cautiously optimistic. Despite the recent upheavals, there’s a palpable consensus that getting service back on track will benefit not just customers and businesses, but the wider economy too.

Now is the time for decisive action. We must harness our creativity to enhance our service offerings, deeply understand our customers, and implement sustainable strategies that deliver a thriving future anchored in service excellence.

Embracing humanity in a tech-driven era

A central theme of this year’s conference was envisioning the future of service, particularly the interplay between technology, AI, and the human element. Professor Martin Rees eloquently expressed a particular concern: the risk of over-reliance on technology and the potential for catastrophic failure impacting our economic and social fabric.

“I’m concerned not so much by the scenario of a takeover by super-intelligence, as by the risk that the world’s economic and social infrastructure will become dependent on it and whose failure would lead to widespread disruption – even societal breakdown.”

– Professor Martin Rees –

To apply this observation to service – in the midst of technological advancements and high expectations, we must not lose sight of the human aspect. This becomes even more crucial during challenging times or when facing adversity.

Fostering empathy, understanding, and maintaining the human connection between businesses and customers is something we’ve all demonstrated we’re capable of, especially after this conference. This will be the cornerstone of our future Service Nation.

Looking ahead with ambition

I know it’s been tough for businesses – as it has customers. But against a challenging backdrop, it’s also essential to celebrate achievements. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the finalists and winners of our UK Customer Satisfaction Awards. Your stories are a powerful reminder that our collective efforts have a significant impact on businesses, the economy, and most importantly, our customers.

It’s also time to chart a new course for customer service, one that takes a long-term view. Let’s build upon the memories, insights, and successes showcased this week, and aim high in our quest for service excellence.

By leveraging customer service, we can enhance business performance, boost economic productivity, and foster a more unified society—all while staying true to our mission of building the Service Nation.

Jo Causon

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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