At the ripe old age of 53, I’m old enough to have experienced many “boom and bust” periods in the UK economy – house price rises and crashes, stock and share indexes up and down like a brides nightie, inflation and deflation, strong and weak currency, credit boom and crunch, rising wages and wage freezes, high employment and unemployment, prosperity and austerity – the list is endless.
Today I was drawn to an interesting report indicating that around a third of contact centres think that customers have much higher expectations than they did 12 months ago and two thirds expect the service and experience bar to continue to improve over the next few years.
Call Centre Helper (callcentrehelper.com) asked their readers “In the past 12 months have customer expectations changed?” producing the following responses;
- Moderately Higher – 43%
- About the Same – 27%
- Lower Expectations – 3%
- Much Higher Expectations – 27%
- Much Lower Expectations – 0%
Whilst, in itself, this isn’t necessarily an eyebrow raiser, the prevailing economic challenges that have arisen following last weeks vote to leave the EU will almost certainly create fear, concern and uncertainty amongst UK businesses – been there, done that, got the T shirt.
So now that the boat has been well and truly rocked many organisations will already be looking at their balance sheets and planning to batten down the hatches with an eye on suspending or cancelling any expenditure in “non-essential” frontline service developments. A perfectly natural reaction you might say however, in the face of rising customer expectation, one that could create division between your business and your customer, reducing loyalty and driving them to find their solutions elsewhere.
Whilst it’s true that our customers may well buy less, they will still buy – they’ll just be more selective and choosy about who they spend their money with. Great news is we can positively influence those decisions by consistently delivering positive customer experiences, developing lower cost service offerings, developing strategies/services/products that make it easier for them to do business with us, building stronger brand loyalty and engaging proactively with our prospective and existing customers to ensure we remain their first choice to do business with. Far from cutting back, continued investment in our customers experience is now even more critical to our future success.
Simply pulling up the drawbridge and controlling costs just won’t cut it. Whether we’re heading for Armageddon or the Promised Land it will be those businesses who adapt and adjust, those who focus on delivering high value and building customer loyalty who will sail through this particular storm (I know it’s a big one but it’s just one of many remember).
So, before you think about your pulling your frontline budgets just make sure you don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.
Interesting challenges ahead for us all.