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I am really pleased to see the increased engagement this year with NCSW (we saw the highest levels of website traffic and social engagement to date) as business leaders and teams across the UK celebrated their service heroes and tested new value propositions – across different departments and while bringing innovations to the fore. We also saw an increase in partnerships and alliances and a much more proactive approach to connecting with our customers.

Let’s not underestimate the power of human connection and the difference that can make for our colleagues and customers (across various parts of the service journeys) – which results in a better experience. In a world that is pretty dark at the moment, we should recognise how service connects people – the ethos about coming together around a shared purpose to have an enduring impact on the customers they serve.

I’m also conscious about how we build on the enthusiasm shown over ‘one week’ so that it becomes sustained and part of the whole year, especially given the business challenges we are all facing and will continue to face into for the next 18 months. Learning from different sectors and communities was another interesting theme that we should continue to focus on – looking for incremental improvements, innovations and continuing to develop our people. Learning new skills and building further on empathy, problem-solving, and thinking through the appropriate relationship between EI and AI will help us all find ways through the challenges being presented to us.

It’s not just one week: lessons for next year and beyond.

Throughout the week, I spoke with several business leaders who engaged – some for the first time – with NCSW. Looking ahead to next year, I really want to see more senior executives and board members getting involved and engaged with their customers. Reducing the distance between senior management and customers is critical. NCSW offers the perfect opportunity for more direct outreach from execs to discuss the experiences of the people critical to their organisation’s success.

Whether that’s having a hand in organisation, actively participating in activities, or asking their service teams what lessons they took from the week, leaders demonstrating their engagement will go a long way to encouraging and embedding a service culture. This isn’t just about the transactional metrics; it’s about the customer connection and ethos and asking ourselves the right questions, the why? The where? Are we relevant? What are we getting right? Where do we need to do better – not averages or league tables.

Additionally, I would love to see this focus on service throughout the business become a permanent fixture. Our service colleagues, after all, are instrumental to the running and reputation of our organisations. They deserve recognition – not just for one week in October, but all year round.

The incentive for boards and execs is clear: our recent Customer Service Dividend research shows organisations that support, train, and recognise their people are more efficient and profitable over the long term.

This is especially important as we look ahead to another year likely to be defined by more geo-political turbulence and continued economic challenges.

No matter how tight the purse strings get, however, businesses should, if only for their own self-interest, invest in recognising and rewarding excellent service. As we saw during NCSW 2023, even small actions to show the value of customers and staff can go a long way. So let’s all take this forward into 2024 with a new vigour and desire to make us the service nation we want to be.

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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