New research finds U.K. businesses are missing out on profit opportunities

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Customer service ratings are falling dramatically short across the board in the U.K., according to an Anaplan-sponsored survey of more than 2,000 consumers. The results were stark: just 26 per cent of airline or travel company customers think that those companies provide a good customer service, and less than 40 per cent of customers of utilities, mobile phone operators, and retailers are satisfied with their customer service. Banks did the best, with 56 per cent of their customers thinking that their service is good – but having just over half of your customers satisfied is still far too low, especially when brand reputation, competitiveness, and market position are highly influenced by good customer service.

How can this be fixed? I believe the solution starts with the staffing of contact centres that are the front line of customer service. Digital interactions – email, text, chat, and social channels – play an increasing role, the telephone remains a vital channel, and the “omni-channel” experience that connects them all is the ideal. Whatever the channel, contact centre staff are central in shaping the overall customer experience (more about that below) and the level of service provided needs to be appropriate to the channel. Forcing customers to wait on hold or giving them inadequate answers is the fast track to making them unhappy – and it’s unnecessary when technology exists to connect contact centre performance to overall business goals and to help better manage the contact centre workforce.

Missed revenue opportunities
Connecting the planning process is crucial for contact centre managers to respond to growing customer expectations. Staffing up in response to a new product release by connecting contact centre planning to the supply chain is one example. Connecting contact centre planning to finance in order to pinpoint the most cost-effective labour coverage for seasonal demand or to respond to an incident is another. By working with one robust, connected, and scalable platform for all planning, managers can ensure their operations are agile and that they can deliver unprecedented customer satisfaction.

Consider the benefits that improved customer satisfaction can bring. Our research showed that U.K. organisations are missing out on potential revenue due to poor customer service (click to tweet). For example, 38 per cent of consumers would be inclined to spend more money with an airline or travel company had they felt that their experience had been better planned. Having a flexible, agile workforce plan will help respond to changing needs. This also helps the bottom line by reducing overstaffing.

Phone contact still dominates
Despite the near-ubiquity of digital customer service channels, our research also revealed that the phone is by far the most common channel used to resolve an urgent enquiry – on average, more than 70 per cent of customers choose this route. Customers of utility providers, media companies, banks, and mobile phone service providers are more likely than average to pick up the phone to contact them. Despite this preference, nearly a quarter of media companies keep their customers waiting on hold for more than 10 minutes. Worse, about one in four customers fail to get through or hang up in frustration.

As businesses re-shore much of their call centre operations due to customer demand – an expensive proposition by any measure – there is a greater emphasis on cutting costs and finding this value elsewhere. Our research reveals that consumers will pay more for a better-planned customer experience (click to tweet). With the latest technology, businesses can connect the planning process and simultaneously drive valuable improvements in headcount efficiency and business agility, whilst also delivering vastly improved customer service.

To learn more about how businesses can provide a better overall contact centre experience, visit this page for a video and other resources. I’d love to hear about your experiences of – and tips for – tackling customer service challenges, so please get in touch.

About the survey
Our research was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Anaplan. Between April 4–7, 2017, 2,009 U.K. consumers were surveyed.

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