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2014 – A year for rebuilding trust

2014 – A year for rebuilding trust
Wednesday January 8 2014

Customer service expert calls on organisations to recognise how technology is empowering consumers and most effective when increasing service levels and convenience

A review of trends in customer service and predictions for 2014 published today by the Institute of Customer Service predicts that customer service will become a more influential driver of growth in a recovering economy.

For both public and private organisations, 2013 brought a combination of improving trading conditions, revelations about poor business practices and a continued shift of power towards the consumer as technology provided new and more effective tools for customers to have their say.

It said new technology will prevail as big data and social media promise to encourage a new and more focused business approach to customer service in 2014. At the same time, trust will grow in importance, placing more emphasis on employees’ customer service skills.

Falling levels of satisfaction

Drawing on historical data from its UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the Institute said a continuous rise in customer satisfaction recorded since 2008 began to plateau for the first time during January 2012 to July 2013, and dipping slightly in July 2013. This posed the question of whether companies have protected their profits during the tough recession years by cutting back on customer service. 

More organisations in the survey (38%) recorded satisfaction levels falling by more than one point compared to those that recorded satisfaction levels rising by the same amount (26%). The link between customer satisfaction and business performance was further strengthened by the same research with those performing best on the UKCSI also achieving more market share than the worst performers.

The Institute predicted technology will continue to transform customer service; the use of big data will provide even deeper knowledge of the customer, paving the way for further innovation but also raising concerns about privacy and the use of analytics. Measuring customer satisfaction in more accurate and sophisticated ways is expected to reveal in more detail how customer service impacts business performance.

Internet-enabled communications
 
Online communities with helpful and knowledgeable members operating alongside employees will provide more help, but also force organisations to relinquish some control over their relationship with customers. Customers will also have more control over organisational change, with social media driving increased responsiveness and personalisation, encouraging organisations to empower frontline staff to make decisions and solve customer issues.
 
It added that this would also impact the demand for customer-focused skills, soft skills and emotional intelligence. From the shopfloor to the highest levels these skills will be at a premium with more customer service representation on boards and leadership teams and a higher proportion of chief executives with customer-centric experience.

Tagged as: Customer | service | satisfaction | big data | online | social media | privacy | analytics | Institute of Customer Service