Customer satisfaction is at its lowest point since July 2016, according to the most recent UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), but what learnings can CX professionals take from the customer sentiment tracker?
The UKCSI is a useful tool for those responsible for businesses. It drills into the detail of service elements that are most important to customers, and pinpoints what has the biggest impact on satisfaction. Some of the areas ranking highly this time are ease of interaction with suppliers, product or service reliability, speed of response and clearly explained information, all of which have a tangible impact on experience and perception.
Interestingly, this survey reveals that emotional connections and relationships are vital to achieving higher satisfaction. Put simply, the more connected and invested customers feel, the more likely they are to feel positively about your organisation and remain loyal.
Making life easy
Customer effort scores are increasingly popular amongst organisations looking to understand their performance in the eyes of customers – and rightly so. Customers want their interactions with providers to be simple, straightforward and involve the minimum of effort. This has been highlighted forcefully within the UKCSI findings and also within Opus Trust’s consumer survey, conducted towards the end of 2018. Those organisations that make customers’ lives easier and who design experiences around customer needs consistently achieve higher satisfaction scores and engender loyalty. But what does that mean in practice?
A joined-up and consistent customer journey is key. It must be designed around customer priorities (rather than organisational priorities), seeking to reduce customer effort throughout. For instance, technology that automatically matches phone numbers to accounts for incoming calls means that customers don’t have to search for account numbers.
Using one system for all queries eliminates the need for customers to explain their previous interactions – a primary cause of frustration. Providing a mix of channel options to communicate with your organisation – from telephone to online chat or app – means that customers can self-select the option that best suits them and communicate with you at a time that is better suited to their lifestyle or circumstances.
The experience that a customer has at each touchpoint says a lot about your company and brand. It is vital that the experience is consistent, whether that’s the tone of voice on a letter, someone’s telephone manner, or the way that customers interact with your online portal.
Eighty percent of respondents surveyed for Opus Trust said they actively keep account-related documentation, representing an enduring piece of your brand. Getting it right and making sure that each channel and touchpoint feels like the same company helps customers to emotionally engage with and “buy in” to your organisation.
Trends you should embrace
The UKCSI report highlighted that a successful communication strategy is key to happy customers, and that strategy must be multi-faceted. As technology and consumer expectations evolve, those people responsible for customer experience should consider the following trends:
Organisations collect more customer data than ever, opening the door to greater personalisation. Businesses should deploy customer data and insight in a way that enhances personalisation and relevance in their interactions. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing rapidly and provides fantastic opportunity for organisations to differentiate through experience, not just drive efficiencies and cost savings.
Digital communication technologies
Consumer demand for channel choice continues to expand as lifestyles and expectations evolve. The Hidden Opportunity report found that a third of consumers expect to use online chat as their primary channel of communication within five years, equalling the numbers expecting to communicate via e-mail.
Similarly, a significant engagement opportunity exists within the messaging arena, with around three billion users on the top four messaging apps each month. Less than half of businesses allow customers to connect via messaging apps, although chatbot technology makes this an increasingly viable option.
Choice is king
Even the simplest account-related interaction becomes an opportunity to build a positive impression and demonstrate customer commitment. Opus Trust found that providing a choice of channels is key, along with easily editable preference selections so that customers can drive their own interaction strategy as their needs change. Our research found that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and that age and demographic have no significant bearing on customer choices.
This places greater emphasis on organisations to treat every customer as an individual, providing them with the breadth of choice that enables them to develop their relationship with your company in their own individual way.