2016: predicted to be a year of polarisation for business

29th Dec 2015

Reports of the demise of customer loyalty are premature, but 2016 will be the year UK organisations will need to score 9 out of 10 - or higher – if they want to build trust, secure repeat purchases, or win recommendations from their customer base.

Analysis of the UK’s economic landscape by the Institute of Customer Service suggests that customer satisfaction levels may have stabilised following two years of decline.  Younger customers are still less likely to be satisfied than their older counterparts and women are more likely, than men, to report a positive customer experience.

Against this backdrop, the Institute has identified the core trends it expects to witness during 2016.  Focusing on data security and insight, and better customer engagement, key elements include: 

- a fusion of forces: customers will become increasingly intolerant of organisations that fail to integrate the ‘customer experience’ across different channels.  Rather than focus on providing online and offline services, the organisations that succeed will create an experience that is indistinguishable across multiple channels and always appropriate for the moment in time that customers need it

- data as more than a ‘collector’s item’: 2016 will finally become the year organisations stop collecting data for its own sake.  Instead, they will analyse it to gain better customer insight and create more a personalised customer experience.  There will also be a greater focus on data security as they recognise the value of trust to building stronger – and longer-term – customer relationships

Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, says: “Over the past 12 months there have been marked differences in performance between organisations that paid attention to service and those who failed to put it at the heart of the customer experience.  In 2016 the polarisation of customer satisfaction – and its impact on market share – will become starker as new entrants challenge established brands and the evidence of the financial benefits a sustained focus on customer service becomes more apparent.”

The Institute of Customer Service also suggests that 2016 will be a year in which greater attention will be paid to improving the customer experience, as service levels become a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive environment.  The Institute’s trend analysis goes on to predict:

- from back room to Boardroom: rather than viewing customer service as a cost centre affecting the bottom line, high performing organisations will focus on forecasting, tracking and measuring customer satisfaction levels so that shareholders will see – and demand – a return on investment in customer service

- sincere support, not superficial smile: as customers become more discerning about the organisations they buy from, employee competence, attitudes and problem-solving skills will grow in importance.  Organisations that prioritise skills development and employee engagement will be the ones to reap the rewards as their market share improves.

Causon concludes: “As the economy moves more strongly into growth, issues of customer and employee engagement and retention take on renewed significance.  Merely focusing on transactions is no longer enough to guarantee loyalty, trust and recommendation.  Instead, the businesses that will do well in 2016 will be those focused on developing the currency of engagement in what has become a relationship-driven economy.”

Ends

Notes to editors
For further information please contact:

Mike Petrook
Institute of Customer Service
E: [email protected] 
T: 07900 734 079

About The Institute of Customer Service
The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers’ experience and their own business performance.  The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 400 organisational members – from the private, public and third sectors – and over 5,000 individual memberships.  For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to www.instituteofcustomerservice.com 

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