16th Dec 2016
We enter 2017 at a time of exceptional uncertainty, creating both risks and opportunities for many organisations. The Institute of Customer Service’s new report, Customer Service Trends 2017, highlights some of the leading factors that will shape the customer landscape next year and beyond:
1. Brexit will heighten the need to invest in customer service skills
As the prospect of recruiting employees from Europe or worldwide becomes less certain due to Brexit, organisations are likely to increase their focus on upskilling existing employees and investing in apprenticeships to identify and develop future employees.
2. Customer service will increasingly be seen as a national asset
As a result of Brexit, there will be a growing recognition across government and business that the UK’s capabilities in customer service are a key national asset, vital both for attracting investment and securing global opportunities.
3. Access to the Single Market for services?
Although the European Single Market for services has developed more slowly than that for goods, the UK’s relatively strong position in customer service suggests there are significant opportunities for UK organisations. We therefore expect that the terms of the UK’s ability to trade with EU countries will become an increasingly important element of the Brexit debate next year.
4. The rise of the emotional and the personal
Emotions, values and highly personal preferences are increasingly powerful factors that influence customers’ choices. Organisations will respond by capturing and acting on customer insight from a broad range of sources, while combining data-driven analysis with greater personal contact with customers and employees.
5. A stronger link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction
Employee engagement will increasingly be seen as a business asset and critical differentiator with a definable return on investment. More organisations will seek to identify and influence the way that employee engagement impacts customer experience and future buying behaviour.
6. Finding the right mix of people and technology
With the advent of technologies such as sensors and artificial intelligence, one of the key challenges for organisations in 2017 will be combining technology and people-based experiences that deliver the optimum blend of efficiency and personalised care.
7. In regulated sectors, transparency will be as important as competition in driving standards
If UK regulators and organisations are serious about raising and maintaining excellent standards of service, 2017 is an opportunity to make an unequivocal commitment by shining a light on service performance and measuring the aspects of experience with organisations that are most important to customers.
8. Leadership will be judged on values and doing the right thing
Organisations will be exposed to scrutiny and held to account on a wider front than ever before. We therefore expect 2017 to see a renewed focus on values, integrity and ethical standards as the touchstone for leadership.
9. Proving the ROI of customer service will become more critical
In an uncertain economic climate, it is tempting for organisations to focus on profit protection and short-term goals. It will therefore become more important than ever for customer service professionals to demonstrate the financial return on investing in improved customer experiences.
10. A renewal of relationships based on respect
Organisations that build and foster relationships based on respect, and dialogue from all perspectives, will be best placed to achieve sustained customer and employee engagement and to meet the uncertainty of the coming year with confidence.