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A new Labour Government was confirmed in the early hours of this morning, with Cabinet appointments being made throughout the day. At the Institute, it is business as usual – we look forward to continuing our work with the new government, as well as with broader policymakers and business leaders, to drive meaningful change for a better United Kingdom.

Elections have a habit of taking centre stage, for good reason. But the whole process can distract from the key actions that need to be undertaken right now. While the new government gearing up for action, one question should be front and centre: How do we, as a nation, drive long-term, sustainable business and economic growth?

As many of you know, the service sector is the cornerstone of our economy, accounting for 80% of UK GDP. And, as a steadfast pillar of Britain’s economic performance, the importance of service-led businesses should not be underestimated.

Therefore, to achieve its ambitions of wealth creation, economic certainty, and growth, this Labour government should consider the service agenda a strategic priority for the country.

Prioritising service within policy to drive growth

We all understand that whenever a new government arrives there will be a flurry of political lobbying, with every organisation clamouring to have their messages heard, so how do we cut through the noise? As regular readers will know, The Institute has created four pillars of activity that underpin our manta for the Service Nation, which we included in our Manifesto for Building a Service Nation. We are calling on the new government to focus on:

1. Investing in service:

  • Organisations must recognise the need to invest in their service proposition, rather than view it as a cost
  • By reforming the Apprenticeship Levy to include service-focused training, the government can incentivise and support businesses in upskilling their people, to instil a proactive, “right first time” approach that promotes service excellence
  • This, in turn, encourages customer loyalty, allowing organisations to grow, create more jobs, and stimulate the economy

2. Customer-centric governance:

  • Doing right by the customer is more important today than it ever has been in dictating an organisation’s reputation
  • To reflect this, we recommend that the government updates corporate governance codes to better suit today’s business landscape and emphasise putting the customer at the heart of business strategy
  • In doing so, organisations can unlock the economic benefits of prioritising the customer, since those that score highly for satisfaction significantly outperform those scoring lower 

3. Enhancing regulated sector standards:

  • The government is keen to enhance service standards and customer welfare across regulated sectors
  • To do so, we are urging the government to mandate that regulated companies report consistently on customer experience and satisfaction
  • By using this data as a benchmark within and beyond their sectors, and taking an outcomes-based approach, organisations will enhance the customer experience and contribute to economic performance

4. Protecting frontline workers:

  • We are especially pleased to see that the new government intends to curb violence and abuse towards shop workers
  • Through our ongoing Service with Respect campaign, the Institute fully supports steps to protect frontline workers and would encourage the government to ensure protections cover all sectors – from retail and hospitality, to transport, infrastructure and financial services
  • Addressing this issue, which remains prevalent across all UK sectors, will be crucial in overcoming our country’s issues of productivity and workforce stability

The business and economic impact

Our aim has always been to encourage and help organisations to put service at the heart of their business.

The urgency required in driving this forward and the opportunity now for meaningful change has never been more apparent. As we prepare for the latest data from our UK Customer Satisfaction Index next week, it is difficult to ignore the consistent decline revealed by the same figures in January.

However, from the many conversations I have with members, I know how important getting your service proposition right is to your business. In this time of change, I am positive we can make a difference.

And, by following the key asks included in our Manifesto, the government can also play its role in putting service at the heart of business.

In return, we can expect to see not just an improvement in customer satisfaction across the board, but a boost in bottom-line performance for organisations in every sector and long-term growth in the UK economy.

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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