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With the Easter Weekend now behind us and the new fiscal year underway, I trust you all enjoyed a restful and refreshing break. With the bank holiday falling so close to the end of the fiscal year, it has no doubt been a busy few weeks for all of us. But the way the calendar sits this year also captures the essence of the season almost poetically – the start of Spring is, after all, the time for new beginnings and rejuvenation.

At our Annual Conference last month, we were inspired by businesses unveiling transformative plans for their service offerings. Amidst the many ongoing challenges business face, there’s a palpable sense of hope that the efforts of the past months will come to fruition.

And, as the new fiscal year gets underway, we must build on this and recognise there may be more reasons to be hopeful that might be initially obvious.

The budding signs of economic revival 

After several years underscored by economic challenges and social upheaval, the landscape in the UK is beginning to show some signs of recovery – certainly in certain sectors. While latest figures confirmed we are indeed in recession at present, the latest consumer confidence data from GfK says that consumer confidence in our personal finances is at its highest in over two years.

This should be an opportunity, but it is also a crucial moment in time for businesses to enhance and evolve their service offerings to ensure they remain relevant and reflect the needs of a very different customer. Our research consistently shows that customers are prepared to invest more in superior service and are quick to abandon organisations that don’t meet their expectations.

The stakes are high, but so are the potential rewards. Now is the moment for organisations to refocus and redouble their commitment to customers. To have a clear sense of what you are trying to achieve, how you are looking to do this, and the role that the whole team plays. This requires foresight, honesty, insight, and leadership.

It also requires resilience and innovation, the desire to test and experiment, be open to new solutions and have a curiosity and desire to keep improving.

Leadership: the service mandate

As always, this starts at the very top, as our business leaders look towards a tentative economic recovery. A genuine commitment to service excellence needs to be driven by us all as leaders, and across the executive team and boardroom. With a shared mindset and collaborative commitment to the purpose. We need to be bold and brave and prepared to stand up and be counted even when we are under fire and increased pressure.

As we enter our new financial year, we will continue to support our members to instil a service culture across their whole organisation – which necessitates a view of customer service as a strategic priority directed that is from the top and understood and acted upon throughout the business.

I hope the start of the new financial has allowed you all to return rested and invigorated, ready to capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead.

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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