The customers have spoken. Are you listening?

Customer service statistics show UK businesses may be out of touch!

In today’s fast-paced business world, where customer expectations are increasingly demanding, supplier choice is growing and competition is more aggressive than ever. Are you taking customer service seriously, or are you just kidding yourself?

Every day business leaders tell us they are making huge strides to improve the customer experience and most claim their customers are happier than they’ve ever been. However, research shows that businesses and consumers view customer service and priorities very differently!

The customers have spoken. Are you listening?

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Here’s what UK customers say:
• 66% of UK consumers believe customer service has either stayed the same, or deteriorated, over the past three years. Only 3% believe it has improved a lot and 22% a little.
• 81% of customers would be willing to pay more in order to receive superior customer service.
• When asked what were the key drivers for a customer to spend more with a company 40% said “improvement in the overall customer experience”*.

Here’s what UK businesses say:
• Only 29% of the UK’s businesses believe that customer service is a key differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace. This compares to 88% of Spanish businesses and 77% of Italian businesses who see customer service as being the differentiator that helps them stand out.
• 53% of UK businesses believe that customer service has become more important over the past 12 months.
• Over 65% of UK bosses believe that businesses can’t keep up with the pace of change in today’s competitive markets and 57% agree that an inability to respond rapidly and effectively to change is one of the most significant risks their business faces today.

Our experience shows that few UK companies motivate or empower employees to deliver exceptional customer service – it’s simply expected of them as part of their job. Yet customer satisfaction is a moving target!

The best of what used to pass for good customer service is no longer enough and the longer a customer stays with you, the more they come to expect. However, customer longevity is seen by many businesses as an endorsement that customers are totally satisfied and they don’t need to change.

Today, you have to do everything you can to make every customer feel acknowledged, appreciated and heard. You have to make them feel special and you need to make people, who aren’t your customers, wish they were.

In a recent survey, when asked what is most likely to keep them loyal, UK customers responded:
• Improved trust in the business 3.1%
• Outstanding reputation of the business 4.9%
• Good loyalty rewards 17.1%
• Cost 17.3%
• Excellent customer service 27.5%
• Quality of product or service 30.2%

To get ahead and stay ahead, modern businesses of every size and in every sector have to learn to become totally customer-centric organisations, where the customer sits at the heart of everything they do and every decision they make.

This requires a paradigm-shift – as Jan Carlzon, CEO of Scandinavian Airline Systems created when they were voted number one business airline 8 out of 10 years – “We used to fly airliners, now we fly people.”

Building the kind of organisation where everyone understands and embraces the notion that the customer truly comes first, where staff at every level continually seek opportunities to enhance the customer experience and are empowered to act, is specialist work. It’s about winning hearts and minds in a way that enables attitudes and behaviours to automatically follow.

This is what it takes to set yourself aside from the competitors; to win as many new customers as you can handle and tie them into you for a lifetime. You’ll even discover that price isn’t as important as some of your people make it out to be.

In summary: Service excellence cannot be mandated and has very little to do with processes, systems and procedures. It’s an attitude, mind-set and passion that exists in your people and sits at the very heart of everything you do.

You’ll need specialist help to get there, but it will transform your business and it will be worth it beyond your wildest dreams! Give Sewells a call at 01244 681068. We’d love to have a chat about how we can help you transform your business.

Sources: Oracle Report*, Rakuten’s, Maritz Research, Porta, Fit To Change report, Cognito, Sage UK Research, Epson Business Council Report, Market Force Research

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