New academy set to close customer service skills gap

23rd Aug 2016

One in six Britons claim to experience poor customer service at least once a week, with many blaming the attitude and competence of staff, a report from the Institute of Customer Service shows. 

The study, which questioned 2,000 customers about the service they experience, reveals 43% of consumers have purposely not bought a second product or service from an organisation following a less than satisfactory experience, suggesting firms will suffer if the trend continues.

The biggest concerns for customers include employees lacking the capability to be of immediate help, disinterested staff, poorly handled complaints and unhelpful attitudes. As a result, 84% of consumers believe customer-facing staff need more training.

The research demonstrates that UK businesses need to pay greater attention to the way they personalise a customer’s experience. Tailoring special offers, knowing names or birthdays and having a record of previous interactions are qualities that customers rate highly. More than a third of people say that this, alone, is enough to make them buy from a company again.

The news comes just days after 28,000 students received their A-level and AS-level grades. The results suggest the STEM skills gap is closing, with more students opting for computer sciences, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics than in previous years. However, in other areas, higher qualifications do not necessarily translate into superior vocational skills. 

To support organisations as they strive to meet consumer demands, the Institute has launched a new academy, which offers a range of people development programmes, professional training and courses for employees in customer-facing roles. The Institute’s chief executive, Jo Causon, believes the academy could be key in helping firms to equip teams that lack skills. 

“Excellent customer service is something we all demand and something we all expect, yet it is clearly not something we all see,” says Causon. “Anything less than the best service risks customers taking their business elsewhere and, in today’s uncertain economy, there are no organisations that can afford to take long-term customer relationships for granted.

“With 70% of the UK’s working population in a customer-facing role, the impact that good service can have on customer retention and repeat purchase should be the number one concern of any boardroom. Service skills may come naturally for some, but where they are absent, they can be still be learned. Successful executive teams realise that by focusing on service skills development they are investing in the long-term stability and future of their organisation.”

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