It is a commonly held truth that training budgets are often the first thing to face the chop when times get hard. This can be a costly mistake, however. An increasing number of firms are now putting stock in training their way out of the recession - investing in staff to ultimately save your organisation money.
So it is with some disappointment that I've read the latest release from The Institute of Customer Service, which reveals that one in three organisations have axed customer service training to survive the recession.
Having conducted a survey of customer service professionals between July and October, the Institute found 30% of organisations surveyed have cut investment in customer service training and 21% have laid off customer-facing staff in 2009. That is despite the Institute’s research that companies with a reputation for service excellence and committed frontline staff have a 24% higher net profit margin than same-sector rivals who do not enjoy similar standing, and can achieve 71% more profit per employee.
Interestingly, the same poll also found only six percent of organisations have cut investment in technology.
Jo Causon, the Institute’s chief executive, said: “Investing in your people is a key differentiator in business today. An organisation that emphasises customer service, through training and development, goes a long way to retaining staff – which motivates them to satisfy customers.”
“Technology can only take you so far in customer service delivery," she adds. "It is your people who are on the front line and they need to be highly trained and motivated to consistently meet and even exceed a customer’s expectations, with technology working in parallel, so that people, processes and strategy are truly aligned around the whole customer experience.”
Well said Jo!
With customer service levels already taking a beating, and our postal services shortly to be crippled by national strikes, it looks like Christmas spirit could be in short supply for customers this festive season.
On a positive note, the poll found that one in five organisations have actually increased investment in customer service - and I'm sure this investment will pay off handsomely for this minority of businesses that are taking a more holistic view of the customer experience.
About Neil Davey
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.