6th May 2016
The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) from the Institute of Customer Service shows that the customer service landscape is changing. Customers are seeking more personalised, authentic and relevant experiences, and have become less tolerant of organisations that do not offer a seamless, multi-channel service.
These changes present a number of opportunities for customer-facing organisations, and suggest that a sustained focus on customer service presents a number of business benefits. Here are the key implications for businesses:
Getting the basics right and dealing with problems and complaints effectively are pre-requisites for sustainable relationships with customers. In particular, complaint handling is one of the key differentiators between the highest-performing organisations and the rest.
As the Institute’s latest findings suggest that customers seek more personalised relationships with the organisations and employees they deal with, customer service training, people development and employee engagement strategies have arguably never been more important.
Recent research by the Institute suggests many businesses do not measure the cost of customer service and few are able to track the return on their investment.
In contrast, the highest-performing organisations see customer service as integral to their business performance and proactively seek ways of measuring its impact on the top and bottom lines.
The attitude and behaviour of staff are currently more important to customers than they were five years ago. Friendliness, helpfulness and competence have also increased in importance, as have speed of service and ease of doing business. But our research also shows that priorities can differ depending on the sector and customer in question. Firms therefore need to understand the make-up of their customer base, assess what is most important to them and use this insight to shape their customer service strategies.
Our research suggests that there is no preferential measure for predicting the impact customer service can have on a business. Instead, organisations should use a range of measures that reflect the attributes of customer experience that are most important to their customers.
Findings from the latest UKCSI suggest that the majority of customers prefer dealing with organisations in person, through their websites or on the phone. However, with two-thirds of adults in the UK now signed up to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, social media should also form a key part of a business’s customer service strategies. To offer a consistent level of experience across all channels, organisations therefore need to measure both the effectiveness of individual outlets and the quality of the overall customer experience.