customer experience

In part 2 of our look at the latest customer satisfaction trends from the Institute of Customer Service’s latest 2021 report, we look at the takeaway recommendations on how to improve customer experience and satisfaction rates.

Customer experience – 9 key recommendations

Following on from the survey of 10,000 customers in January 2021, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index report concluded 9 key recommendations to help improve customer service and respond to changing customer behaviours and needs:

  1. Make it easy for customers to contact you and access help
  2. Communicate and engage proactively with your customers
  3. Be responsive to customers’ personal context and situations
  4. Prioritise and plan for the needs of vulnerable customers
  5. Maintain a focus on delivery and logistics
  6. Take care of your employees’ wellbeing
  7. Develop a culture of agility and innovation
  8. Assess your customers’ changing needs and priorities
  9. Defocus on short and long term risk and performance

In this article, we take a deeper delve into the recommendations that help improve overall customer experience, customer interactions, complaint handling, and dispute management, all of which will help businesses improve their satisfaction score and ultimately generate more recommendations, trust, and loyalty (the statistics behind this can be found in our first article here).

Make it easier for customers to contact you and access help

The easiest way to help improve customer experience is to ensure that customers know how best to communicate with you about their issue or query, how quickly you will respond and how you will keep them informed.

  • Provide the widest practical range of channels for customers to use, ensuring you meet the needs of customers who are vulnerable and/or prefer offline methods.
  • Track the hand-offs between channels in a single customer journey. Diagnose “pain points” or inconsistencies that increase customer effort or prevent customers from achieving their objectives.
  • Measure your speed of response, time to resolve customer issues, and the number of experiences that are resolved right first time from the customer’s perspective.
  • Test and improve the quality and ease of use of your online experience.
  • Ensure your organisation is resourced with knowledgeable staff to enable customers to access help when they need it.
  • And last but most importantly, do not forget the importance of customers being able to speak directly to helpful and knowledgeable staff. Ensure there is always the opportunity to speak to a person at the first point of contact or when needed along the customer journey.

“There has clearly been a significant growth in online services, digital innovation and exciting new ways of delivering services. But it is also clear that human contact remains something that consumers need.”

Joanna Causon, Chief Executive, The Institute of Customer Service.

Proactive engagement and communication with customers

  • Provide clear information through all relevant channels about how to access services, support, and advice, and how to make a complaint, including any changes your organisation has put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Ensure the tone of your communications is direct, straightforward, and respectful. Avoid sounding either too corporate or overfamiliar. Be helpful and empathetic.
  • Allow customers the opportunity to provide feedback and raise concerns about their experiences with your organisation, including how to escalate a complaint and raise a dispute.
  • Set clear expectations about when and how you will keep customers informed about the progress of an issue. Make sure you honour a commitment to contact a customer.
  • Look at opportunities to communicate content that helps customers better manage their relationship with your organisation and improve their well-being more broadly, especially during COVID-19.

Be responsive to customers’ personal context and situations

  • Listen and empathise. Allow customers to explain their situation and how it has impacted them, especially if their personal circumstances have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Be sensitive, respectful, and reassuring. Acknowledge the feelings and emotions expressed by customers; demonstrate that you have listened and that you care.
  • Where appropriate, research a customer’s account history so that you have a full picture of their circumstances and interactions with you. If you need more information to reach a fair and appropriate outcome, encourage the customer to provide more information about their circumstances.
  • Focus on getting things right first time, both for customers and other colleagues, to avoid causing unnecessary effort or stress.
  • Use the flexibility that your organisation allows to reach outcomes and solutions that are tailored to an individual customer’s circumstances. Where necessary, challenge existing processes in order to generate solutions and make sure knowledgeable staff are empowered.
  • Personalise the customer experience to make it easier for customers and enhance integration across channels.

“As customers, we need human contact, empathy and reassurance, especially for issues that are complex or personally important.”

The customer experience for vulnerable customers

  • Take into account the needs of vulnerable customers in designing customer journeys, especially for changes in service put in place because of COVID-19.
  • Publish transparent policies and guidance about the help available to vulnerable customers.
  • Provide guidance on sensitive issues, such as physical, mental, or financial well-being that enable customers to self-serve and give them an option to identify themselves as being
    “vulnerable”. Remember, some customers who may never have considered themselves in this category may now well be classed as vulnerable.
  • Encourage customers to share information about their needs and personal circumstances so that your organisation is better able to help them and they will not need to repeat information in future.
  • Identify measures to put in place, to recognise the exceptional circumstances affecting customers.

The QASSS customer experience

With over 10 year’s experience in complaint handling and dispute resolution, we have been fortunate to have won various awards that recognise our approach to customer experience – providing speedy resolutions with knowledgeable, empathetic, and empowered staff.

QASSS only operates in the home improvement and renewable energy industry where we have leading sector expertise to allow the quickest speed of resolution in the UK (3.59 days on average as compared to the UK average of 80 days¹).

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business whether with complaint handling management, dispute resolution, or warranty claims, give us a call on 0161 676 0919 or email [email protected]