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Why UK brands need to kick their CX efforts into overdrive


Despite the challenging economic landscape, more than a third of customers are willing to pay more to guarantee excellent service. So why are customer satisfaction levels dropping?

18th Apr 2023

Every year, the Institute of Customer Service surveys 45,000 customers across 13 sectors to benchmark the satisfaction of consumers across the UK.

The recently-published Customer Satisfaction Index revealed that brands’ ability to handle complaints has not improved, and has in fact hit a wall. In addition, other areas of customer satisfaction that are imperative for business performance, such as a company’s emotional connection with its customers, have shockingly seen a decline.

These results should be a big wake-up call for brands, as, despite the economic downturn, the report finds that great CX remains desirable – with more than a third of customers being willing to pay more to guarantee excellent service.

It makes sense: when forced to economise on spending, customers might well prefer to make fewer purchases, but choose to purchase from brands that deliver the best overall experience.

The bottom line: improving CX matters more than ever. Commenting on the results in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, Joanna Causon, chief executive at the Institute of Customer Service, said that stalled and declining customer satisfaction “impedes organisations’ performance and profitability, and has significant implications for the productivity of the economy.”

So, how can companies ensure they are the brand or business of choice? Focusing on customers, colleagues and cost as key principles will add value to the CX journey even during the most challenging times. These areas of focus should include:

Reimagining the customer journey

The changes we’ve seen in the last few years have been monumental, described as two years of transformation in just a couple of months for many. Post-pandemic, with gen-z growing as a customer base, alongside the acceleration of new technology, companies can’t stand still when it comes to CX. Competitive market advantage requires a more integrated approach than ever before.

Where businesses had previously been focused on fixing isolated ‘problems’, there’s now a need to look at every facet and touchpoint and how they can evolve to create more positive customer experiences and improve profitability.

Greater data insights and a more holistic and collaborative framing of CX needs will save time, money and resources while also boosting customer experience.

It is possible to both boost the customer journey and reduce costs.

Customers increasingly expect brands to evolve to meet their changing digital consumption habits and needs. To interact with a brand anytime, anywhere, on any channel is a basic requirement for most consumers.

This has put a great pressure and onus on brands, which has resulted in the actual customer journey being at risk of being overlooked. Designing an effective journey begins with their needs and builds backwards, with safety and security at the fore. It is possible to both boost the customer journey and reduce costs.

Delivering an appealing employee experience

Attracting talent and harnessing the collective knowledge of frontline employees has become harder given the talent shortages affecting global businesses and the switch to WFH respectively.

Strong employee value propositions and experience can provide a powerful recruitment tool and, in turn, goes hand-in-hand with great CX delivery. Ensuring employees have access to the right tools and technologies to effectively perform their duties is another must in 2023.

Technology can also be used to make sure employees’ jobs are more enjoyable. AI and intelligent automation can, and should, be being used to remove repetitive and low value-add tasks, giving people room to concentrate on delivering value to customers. This is one way to drive employee engagement, loyalty and retention, all key factors in responding to global talent challenges.

The disruption that’s hit many businesses has forced them to also look again at workforce management – rethinking their approach to people, their organisation and ongoing sustainability. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has morphed into environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) – including a people-first philosophy that looks at the way a business can positively impact everything it touches.

Good partnerships can bring expertise and flexibility while reducing cost-to-serve

As the customer journey becomes increasingly complex, the need for organisations to also establish the right partnerships becomes more important. Good partnerships can transform CX – accelerating growth, improving brand reputation, and reducing the cost-to-serve. They’re often an essential piece of the puzzle.

Most companies, however, still manage customer service in-house, arguing that CX should be kept close to the business. Working with a partner that has deep specialist CX expertise and capability, on the other hand, opens up opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach – mass personalisation is a great example of this.

When it comes to achieving improvements and innovations in CX, a specialist partner is a sound business decision.

Research shows that clients are looking for outsourcing providers that accelerate the growth of their companies and improve the strength of their brands. Many of them are also looking to work with a single provider rather than having multiple relationships.

As a result, CX service partners need to be able to do it all: delivering the levels of personalisation and execution quality that customers demand, as well as the business process outcomes required to deliver value and cost predictability.

The best CX partners will be able to harness best practice from multiple industries and invest in the latest innovations in technology to create unforgettable experiences for customers and rewarding working environments for CX colleagues.

When it comes to achieving improvements and innovations in CX, a specialist partner is a sound business decision.

Instead of being isolated and restricted in-house, external partners have a panoramic view of people, process, and technology, all of which must be balanced just right to drive positive business outcomes.

An expert CX provider will have the capability and experience to help organisations with three major advantages:

  • Driving lower overall cost – both run rate and investment.
  • The flexibility to support businesses and respond quickly to external market change.
  • The expertise to bring fresh innovative thinking and CX transformation delivery.

Ultimately – whilst times are tough – the satisfaction index should be a wake-up call to CX leaders to review whether they have the right technologies, skills, and partners to overcome this period of change and disruption.

Delivering for your customers and colleagues needn’t come at great cost, in fact it is key to unlocking value, especially given the growing danger of losing customers to challengers. When it comes to CX, we can, and must, do more.

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