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The people characters giving five star feedback represent the importance of customer satisfaction and the role it plays in the success of a business. Reviews stars with good and bad rate. Vector.

At the moment, businesses seem to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. Retail banks are just the latest to face backlash from regulators and customers, with supermarkets and utility companies having faced similar criticism in recent weeks – and now the communications sector.

Many customers are facing increasing and sustained financial pressure. For businesses looking to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction and avoid the negative attention, the focus needs to be on value.

Through the UKCSI, we measure and track customer satisfaction trends over time. One of the factors we look at is what customers are prepared to pay for. We find that, even in hard times, it is rarely only about the lowest price.

Thinking about value, rather than price, changes the proposition for customers. For those where money is particularly tight, price might be the overriding determinant of value for a customer. For most, however, weighing up value involves considering time savings, longevity, sustainability, quality and how the product or brand delivers for them overall.

Our research shows that customers want choice and a personalised approach. Our latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index demonstrates that organisations delivering the highest quality of customer service are being rewarded with greater loyalty and growth even amidst the cost-of-living crisis.

Given the environment – offering a range of options, listening carefully to the issues and offering flexibility is becoming even more important, along with building trusted relationships and reassurance through timely advice and support – we need to show we care. Personalised communications can make a big difference here – simple but genuine changes in language go a long way to making customers feel listened to and increasing the value of a service.

Where appropriate, going beyond the request at hand and telling a customer that you noticed ‘x’ and so ‘y’ may be helpful, if skilfully deployed. Firms that look to trade primarily on price are in danger of driving the wrong long-term outcome.

Focusing on the value equation opens more options for you to demonstrate your worth. And to do this well you need to understand the fundamental drivers of your customers. Within the UKCSI, we consider the Five Dimensions of Customer Satisfaction: Experience, Complaints Handling, Customer Ethos, Emotional Connection and Ethics.

By understanding the value you offer a customer within each of these (and how important each one is to your own customers), you can differentiate, think more creatively and allow your colleagues to feel more connected to your business. We would argue helps you to be more sustainable and effective – and what and how we perform now for our customers will be remembered.

Jo Causon

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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