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The July UKCS report reveals a third successive fall in customer satisfaction levels - we examine possible causes.
We are now in a genuine relationship economy in which organisations’ success will increasingly be determined by the quality of their relationships– with customers, suppliers, partners and inside organisations. So says the forward to the July UKCS which worryingly reveals a third consecutive fall in customer satisfaction measurements. The six monthly Customer Services index measures customer satisfaction in thirteen areas across the UK economy. In the latest index only Utilities showed an increase in satisfaction and given that that sector still sits firmly at the bottom of the pile that gives little cause for joy. So where are we going wrong? Why, despite all of the publicity about the importance of creating a strong organisational culture which puts customer experience at the heart of every action and interaction are customers increasingly dissatisfied with the level of customer service? The answer is twofold. Firstly, we are as a nation becoming more critical. The tradition of ‘be polite and say nothing’ is fading as younger generations become more vocal in their acceptance or otherwise of service levels. When examples of poor service can instantly be publicised on social media the old excuse that what was experienced was an ‘isolated incident’ can quickly be shown up to be a single incident in a chain of similar problems. Add in the instant response culture which is driven by social media and smartphone use and it is not surprising that those in the lowest age group record satisfaction levels of 72.5 against the 80.3 seen in the oldest group. The other reason is that despite everything, organisations have still not transformed themselves to put customer satisfaction at the top of the agenda. Whilst a few do ‘get’ customer satisfaction, many see it more as an advertising slogan than a real driver of processes and attitudes. Common failings include:
We could go on but all of these failings add up to one simple fact – the customer does not come first. Turning this around requires far more than a slogan on the website or on the wall. It means a complete cultural overhaul, a look at every process and every product with the customer in mind. It means changing hearts and minds, transforming beliefs and behaviours until every person lives and works with a genuine care for creating exceptional customer experiences. It won’t be easy. In some sectors organisations will have to overcome the customer trust issue as well as internal inertia. But for those who are successful the rewards are there. The UKCS report summarises this perfectly:
For organisations the choice is simply to change or to fade away. Those which step up to the mark have the chance to build a loyal and ongoing customer base. Those which don’t will see custom wither away as increased dissatisfaction and falling margins drive the business into ever more desperate cost cutting measures. As the Institute of Customer Service says, we are now in a relationship economy. Isn’t it time that you stopped back covering and short-termism and started building genuine relationships with your customers?