13th Apr 2017
Looking back on her eight years at the helm of The Institute of Customer Service, Jo Causon believes that her key achievement has been persuading retailers of the tangible business case for improving customer service. In the leading daily news site Retail Gazette’s Big Interview column, Causon recalls how she encountered retailers who believed that customer service was “a bit pink and fluffy, a bit ‘have a nice day’ and a bit of a nice to have”.
Progress has been made in the sector towards understanding the economic value of good customer service, says Causon. Her comments are backed up by the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index Retail (Non-food) Sector Report, in which the industry saw its CSI score rise by 0.5 points over the last year, to 82.5.
However, Causon warns there is still a great deal of work to be done. Rising customer expectations place retailers under increasing pressure to deliver great customer service.
“All of the research information that I have demonstrates a direct correlation between great customer experiences, great customer service and the long-term viability of an organisation,” she says. “If we look particularly at retail, there is a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and sales growth. The organisations with higher levels of customer satisfaction have higher levels of sales.
“Customer satisfaction and customer experiences, we’re not doing this just to be nice, there is an actual economic imperative.”
And she adds that, while customer service is generally a high priority for companies in the sector, businesses must stay vigilant to stay ahead.
“It’s highly competitive,” she explains. “It’s also something that we utilise every day, so we’re constantly having a shopping experience. We’re a nation of shoppers, we like to shop.
“What we’re seeing is customer expectations going up, there is increasing pressure for us to make sure we’re delivering great customer service. One of my fears is people will take their eye off the ball.”