Customer service expert: Ensure a personal experience to win hearts, minds and loyal customers

14 March 2016

Companies winning the hearts, minds and, crucially, custom of consumers are those which deliver a personal experience, according to the Institute of Customer Service whose CEO Jo Causon takes to the stage at AM’s first ever Customer Service Summit.

The event, which takes place on April 14 at Whittlebury Hall, near Silverstone, Northampton, explores the customer experience in automotive retail for the tech-savvy, time-poor and highly informed modern day car buyer and owner.

The Institute’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) is the UK’s biggest barometer of customer service and last year showed the most significant improvement since 2012 when its results were published earlier this year.

Topping the index was Amazon whilst within the top 50 organisations there were a number of new entrants including Utilities Warehouse, Trailfinders and RIAS.

Causon (pictured) said: “Customer satisfaction is increasing to the point that it is at its highest level for two years and the organisations that are scoring highest are those that have recognised how customer priorities are changing – they are delivering more personalised, relevant and meaningful customer experiences through building trust and ensuring that employee behaviour and attitude is meeting customer expectations.”

Customer satisfaction in the automotive sector has remained stable over the past 12 months – rising 0.2 points since January 2015.

She said: “As a specific sector it scores more positively than the UK pan-sector average in many areas, but particularly well for interactions with customers over the phone.  However, there is still work to be done in terms of online communication – an area falling below customer expectation levels.

“Organisations are focusing on a seamless experience across multiple channels.  However, while the multi-channel environment demanded by customers has the potential to offer a faster more flexible service, it can also exacerbate problems if not done correctly.

“Challenger brands, often unencumbered by legacy systems and processes are gaining on their larger competitors by offering straightforward, personal, seamless and quick service experience – and this is a challenge that more established organisations need to address.”

Meanwhile, consumers are rating attributes such as staff competence as increasingly more important although Causon is quick to remind businesses that customer service is the responsibility of all staff members and not just those in the frontline.

“Customer priorities are changing and reflect the fact that the core ingredients of excellent service – employee competence, attitudes and behaviour – have become more important differentiators than they were just five years ago. 

“Customers want to build a relationship based on understanding, trust, convenience and value.  Alone none of these will be sufficient, but combined they can make the difference between a great experience and a one-off transaction that doesn’t encourage repeat purchase, recommendation or loyalty.”

Based on the views of 10,000 UK consumers, the UKCSI revealed an increase in customer satisfaction of 0.8 points to 77 (out of 100) last year although it was still some way off the 2013 peak of 78.2.

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