Today 80% of UK GDP is generated by the service sector. This has seen a big change if we look back over the past fifty years, when manufacturing, extraction of coal and steel played a much larger part.The office of National statistics Index of services shows the largest growth and contribution to the economy from professional, scientific and technical services for the period 2008 to 2018.
As we move through the current uncertainties of the global pandemic and Brexit, many organisations may be tempted to chase growth in revenue and customer numbers whilst disregarding customer service standards. It is worth noting at this point that long term success is still underpinned by consistently delivering a high level of customer service.
In recent research by The Institute of Customer Service, helpfulness and competence of employees were found to be among the strongest drivers of loyalty and satisfaction.
Customers also want fast, efficient transactional service, but also seek personal empathetic help and advice. A broader view shows other areas of interest around customer satisfaction and loyalty to include a company’s ethos, emotional connection with customers, reputation and impact on society have emerged. Trustworthiness, openness and transparency also remain very important, as would be expected.
Updating staff skills can be addressed through various training courses and workshops that include updating staff understanding of customer expectations, customer complaints handling and more. The Institute of Customer Service provide such courses and offer professional qualifications.
For businesses considered to be consistently high performers, it is understood that delivering high standards of customer service needs to be fundamental to their core values and purpose, it must therefore be a mindset throughout the organisation.
Recruiting is another area believed to become more challenging and more important to the customer service sector. In research published January 2020 by the Institute of Customer Service 50% of managers felt recruitment has become more difficult, 45% believed their organisations level of recruitment was set to increase. Yet over the previous year (2019) the rate of successful recruitment was just 52%, with an estimated cost to the UK economy of £17.6 billion for failed recruitment.
As demand for skills grows in this sector three factors will influence relationships at work. Pay, training and development, and now flexible working has emerged as a factor in attracting and retaining employees. Running parallel are the skills needed for good customer service which have become broader especially for communication, managing customer relationships , problem solving and data management. Improving the effectiveness of recruitment will therefore become even more important.
Finally, and in my opinion certainly worth mentioning, the UK is the second largest exporter of services in the world according to WTO data. With America being the largest and Israel followed by Canada in third and fourth places. There are many challenges facing the UKs’ future and many opportunities as our government seek to move us further toward a high-tech economy currently worth £400 million a day according to the gov.uk website published in February 2020.
As a company Copyvision serve and support people first and foremost then technology. People are the primary driving force for the long-term achievement of business success. We must however not take our eyes off developing technologies such as AI and computer learning driving the self-service demand.