unhappy customer service

With the economy making baby steps into recovery, customer’s expectations for instant, 24/7 customer service are still rising and the ability to provide a cost effective service across multiple channels has never been more crucial if we want continued economic growth.

According to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) though, customers are a lot less happy with their customer experience now, than in January 2011, during the UK recession, which should concern organisations with the economy starting to recover.

The survey, conducted across 197 organisations involving nearly 10,000 customers, saw almost half of the organisations’ satisfaction levels drop by at least one point. This included organisations that are consistently amongst the highest rated by their customers.

Each sector featured a range of customer satisfaction scores and included examples of companies that defied the overall trend, with improved customer satisfaction levels. However some of biggest improvers, such as Transport and Utilities, had a lower than the UK average satisfaction score.

Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service, commented: “There are a number of factors that could be influencing the downward trend in satisfaction. Customer expectations are rising and their needs are changing more quickly, with speed, convenience and being easy to do business with particularly important. In this environment, organisations must invest in customer insight and apply it with agility. They will also need continuously to review their customer service skills, capabilities and standards to ensure they are relevant to changing customer needs…”

We have to agree with Jo’s further comments: … “As the economy moves into growth, there is a temptation to prioritise a short-term boost in customer numbers; but the evidence from UKCSI demonstrates, that only a consistent focus on the customer experience will enable organisations to adapt to changing customer expectations and achieve sustainable success.”

Interestingly, having investigated satisfaction levels by age group for the first time, the UKCSI revealed that the people most likely to be dissatisfied with levels of customer service are from younger age groups. It’s also these younger age groups that expect multi-channel customer service delivery, with instant access to the information through search, FAQs and across social platforms too. It’s no surprise then that this study suggests that organisations will need to adapt to keep their customers engaged in a world of multi-channel customer service delivery.

Organisations need to understand their customers’ needs and invest in implementing the right customer service technology to meet these requirements consistently across all channels. Pivotal to attracting new and retaining existing customers, a truly multi-channel service should be top of the agenda.