As anyone who had tried to contact customer services in the last ten months knows full well, the pandemic has really made it difficult to resolve problems (and often to speak to a human being). There are one of two firms that continue to provide excellent service, but in general – and for obvious reasons - it’s much more difficult to deal with customer complaints and solve problems than it was previously.
The UK Institute of Customer Service (UKCIS) publishes regular updates on the level of customer satisfaction and the results of their latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published earlier in February, revealed customer satisfaction in the UK continues to decline, falling to 76.8 – its lowest level since 2015.
There is no doubt we are navigating one of the most challenging periods in our recent history, with the events of the past year having shaken and changed the customer experience environment - perhaps permanently in some cases.
According to the UKCSI, “the past six months have seen a worrying rise in the number of customers experiencing problems with organisations – with issues ranging from the reliability and quality of goods and services to instances of late or slow service.” Covid and Brexit account for some of these, but not all. UKCSI says the problem is not new and “we have seen a worrying downward decline in customer satisfaction in this country since long before the pandemic hit.”
My view, expressed regularly in these pages, is that customer service ought to be at the heart of whatever you do. Peace is a recruitment firm: we employ people who are good at selling, but, from day-one, what they are all taught to remember is that we sell our SERVICES – our ability to identify, engage with and match high quality candidates with jobs that are suitable for them. It is our service that underpins our success. What we most definitely are not is a company that simply looks to make its targets come hell or high water. Placing the wrong person in the wrong job with the wrong company may allow you to prosper for a short while, but in the medium term it’s a recipe for failure.
This applies equally when things go wrong (as they do, even in the best run companies). How quickly and how professionally you deal with problems, errors and faux pas generally says a lot about you and your business. Get it right and you keep (and usually impress) the customer: get it wrong and you lose them to a competitor. To that end, if you are a customer of ours and there is any aspect of our customer service – good or bad – that you feel merits my time, I am always happy to hear from you. You can email me here.
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment