Rewriting the Rules of Customer Experience
The changes of the last twenty months are not only rewriting the rules of how we live in the present but changing how we might live going forward. In many ways, the world will never be quite the same. This pandemic has shown that working from home can be done successfully and effectively. Furthermore, this shift allows employees to have a better work-life balance. Over the last year, we have seen an increase in businesses reaching out to their customers just to ‘check-in’ and see how they are. Many companies have shifted from asking customers questions about their product and started to simply ask “how are you?” or “what are you doing with your day today?”. Companies made this shift because, during the pandemic, many people stopped buying many items that they no longer deemed essential, or useful in the short term.
Our focus right now is to engage in creating meaningful relationships with customers. If you do this successfully, organisations need to build customer loyalty and retention at the same time. From small business to large corporations, everyone is working hard to create a digital-first world which sees changes in how we are interacting with our customers. With screen time rising and customer behaviours changing, customer service teams must flex to embrace new ways of working.
Customer Experience during the Covid-19 crisis
So, what does the UK Customer Service industry look like right now? The UKCSI is the national barometer of customer satisfaction published twice a year by The Institute of Customer Service since 2008. It is an independent, objective benchmark of customer satisfaction on a consistent set of measures on over 250 organisations and organisation types in 13 sectors. In a report by the UK Customer UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) found that 14.9% of customers experienced a problem with an organisation, the highest rate since 2009.
Overall customer satisfaction was higher for experiences recorded in spring 2021 than for those in autumn 2020. The biggest improvement between autumn 2020 and spring 2021 was in the Transport and Tourism sectors. 27% of customers have experienced a change in customer service during the Covid-19 pandemic. Customers were most likely to say there has been a change in the customer service they experienced in the Public Services (Local and National) and Transport sectors.
The main positive changes in customer experience during the pandemic are better scheduling of appointments, support to improve well-being, and proactive communication by organisations. Customers who prefer to pay more for excellent service are the most likely to spend more with companies they trust and with local, independent, or ethical companies. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service commented on how satisfaction has remained flat over the past year and that some organisations and industries were faring better than others. “Having well trained customer service operatives who have high emotional intelligence is really important.” she added, “at these times, customers are looking for reassurance. Where organisations have offered advice, guidance and support, something more akin to servicing rather than selling, they’ve done well.”
The Active Digital Difference
Here at Active Digital, we are working hard to listen to our customers and respond to their needs. We take the time to learn about our customers and to care for them. The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated digital adoption and highlighted the importance of flexibility across all aspects of a business. But whether an organisation’s service team is connecting with customers using automation, messaging or the phone, the important element is to understand and acknowledge the challenges your customers are facing. We often think of customer service as a reactive function in a business. This means that people in your teams are only required to react to customers, rather than be proactive. However, the proactive piece is often the most valuable and even in busy periods, a brief call to a client to see how they are, can be the difference in keeping that customer longer term.
Furthermore, organisations are rapidly realising the importance of soft skills and the value they bring to a business. Studies have found that employers are more likely to hire someone who meets both the experience requirements for the role and has soft skills. This is because teamwork is extremely important and being a good communicator can be vital to leading a brilliant customer service team.
In a recent customer experience trends report, it said that in a survey from 90,000 customers over 175 countries, customers want quick and easy online transactions (65%). However, they also said they wanted businesses to show they care. In all, 49% said they wanted their customer service operative to be empathetic. The report also showed that just one bad experience can be enough for 50% of customers to switch to another provider.
Now is the time for us to navigate this challenging landscape and once again, show our customers why we continue to be champions of customer experience. How we make our customers feel is often what they remember most. So, whether your communication is online or offline, it is a great time for organisations to really differentiate on their service experience, just like Active Digital do so well.
Find out more at Active Digital