Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 30, 2020


Nearly a third of Brits will never spend again with businesses which provided bad customer service during the lockdown, according to new research from Infobip.

The research from the global cloud communications platform polled 2,000 British consumers to see how businesses rank in serving customers during the lockdown ordered by the UK Government. The majority of UK consumers (79 percent) reported experiencing bad customer service over this time.

Given each customer would have previously spent an average of £341 per year with said companies, those businesses providing poor experiences during lockdown could be set to lose a total of £2.5bn per year in future sales.

The biggest frustrations included waiting to speak with customer services (35 percent), limited ways and times to contact a company (31 percent) and repeating details to a customer service agent (20 percent).

Those businesses that get customer service right will reap the rewards – especially when more than half (54 percent) of UK consumers said they will purchase from businesses again if the service was positive.

Supermarkets get it right

UK supermarkets succeeded in keeping the nation happy during the hardest of times, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of shoppers satisfied with their lockdown supermarket shop. Tesco, Asda and M&S all make the top five brands identified by customers as delivering the best service. Supermarkets quickly adapted to the changing needs of the customer during unprecedented times, with many rolling out online services and offering additional support through mobile apps.

They didn’t disappoint with their digital offering either – half of British shoppers were happy with the online alternative to in-store provided by supermarkets. Banks and financial services also fared well keeping more than half (55 percent) of their customers happy, notably by the customer service they received.

Nikhil Shoorji, Managing Director Europe at Infobip, said:“If a business doesn’t deliver good customer service, this impacts the bottom line: consumers will vote with their feet. We know that if a business doesn’t get it right, customers will not shy away from dropping that brand in search of one that does.

“As we adapt to a “new normal”, UK businesses must invest time and resources into understanding and anticipating their customers’ needs – whether these are online or in real life.”

John PhillipsJohn PhillipsSeptember 15, 2020


With the UK officially entering a recession for the first time in 11 years, it’s fair to say that many organisations are facing an uncertain future. Sales and revenues have been rocked in recent months and, with the economy still struggling to catch up alongside the threat of a second wave still on the horizon, we’re not out of the deep end just yet. 

This time of hardship for businesses has also brought about some key changes in consumer behaviour. The need to stay at home and socially distance in order to meet government guidelines has meant that buying preferences have altered as individuals sign up for services that they potentially hadn’t thought about before. COVID-19 has propelled a declining rate of ‘ownership’ in Britain. A 2018 report found 25 percent of UK adults believed they’d be subscribing to more services over the next five years and more research finding 57 percent of adults globally wish they could “own less stuff”.

As a result, subscription-based models have witnessed a boom in popularity, becoming a key means for businesses to ensure a stable revenue stream and for consumers to get the products they want in a convenient, low-cost way. In fact, a recent Zuora report found that more than half of subscription businesses have not been impacted by the pandemic, while one quarter are actually seeing subscriber acquisition rates accelerate.

Yet, whilst these stats are positive, subscription businesses cannot afford to be complacent – especially those offering Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG). In order to continue to prosper during these tough times and beyond, businesses need to focus on forming direct relationships with their customers, to both increase satisfaction rates and encourage loyalty. Ensuring positive customer experiences has never been more integral to future survival and success.

A shift in mindset

During the peak of the pandemic, with supermarkets and shopping centres closing their doors and millions of households asked to stay at home, many consumers took to ordering products online. Signing up to subscription-based models became a way of ensuring that they were able to access the goods and services that they wanted and needed. From groceries and meal-planning boxes to coffee delivery services, the businesses already implementing subscription-based models saw an increased demand for what they had to offer.

One such business is subscription-based recipe box provider Gousto. Despite the economy still being in turmoil, the growth that this business witnessed during the first half of 2020 – with a 115 percent spike in sales – has meant it has been able to create 1,000 new jobs as part of an expansion. In recent months, this success has been echoed by subscription businesses in many different sectors. For example, according to the Royal Mail, the growth of the subscription box economy has caused a huge surge in parcel delivery, with 15 percent of adults ordering a paid subscription box online during the first couple of months of the pandemic.

According to the same report, digital news and media also saw large growth from March through to May, with a growth rate of 110 percent in comparison to the baseline growth rate captured from February 2019 – February 2020.

This demand for subscription-based services is likely to increase as time goes by, with our recent CPG Subscription Report discovering that consumers who already have a subscription are 2x more likely to get another in the next 3 years. But, as things return to some semblance of normality and restrictions begin to ease, in order to continue to drive this growth and build loyalty within their customer-base, CPG subscription businesses need to place a renewed focus on customer experience initiatives.

Adding true value

In the past, CPG brands could let retailers worry about the customer experience; they only had to provide the products. Now, in a direct-to-consumer reality, CPG brands need to forge relationships based on customer experiences they themselves have created if they want to succeed. Creating a seamless and positive experience has never been more important to ensure stability moving forward. But what is it that makes a positive great experience?

For consumers, whether in prosperous times or in the midst of a global pandemic, the priority is remarkably consistent: they want subscriptions to deliver real value. But their definition of value is much more than simply a price point. Whilst saving money is important to 72 percent of consumers when signing up to a subscription service, it will often not be enough to make them stay long term. This is because cost alone does not equal a good customer experience and is, therefore, not the true driver of subscription decision making.

Today’s consumer wants to be put in the driving seat – therefore businesses who ensure both flexibility and convenience are likely to come out on top. For example, the ability to opt-out or even just temporarily suspend a service is seen as a really important factor. Moreover, the fear of being bound to a company or service is enough to put 42 percent of consumers off signing up in the first place. The delivery mechanism for the subscription must also be more convenient than traditional purchasing. It must take the pain out of tackling the high-street but still provide the experience at home for customers. There is a common thread that the most popular subscriptions will save time, deliver to the home or be something that the customer would struggle to get hold of under normal circumstances.

Customisation is also crucial when it comes to improving the customer experience. Consumers have higher expectations for a subscription model than they do with a single purchase. Taking unique preferences into account is likely to enable businesses to build a better relationship with their customers, encouraging a longer commitment and lessening churn.

In fact, research from the Subscribed Institute recently discovered for companies where one in 10 subscriptions has a change after the initial sign-up, for example, this could be an upgrade, downgrade or add-on, the growth rate more than doubles to 20 percent YoY revenue growth.

Once these models are adopted, focusing on adding value and improving the overall experience for customers will prove critical for building and retaining loyalty long term.

Getting ahead of the game and tapping into the subscription economy now will not only help organisations to bounce back following the global pandemic. It could help ensure future success. However, in order to capitalise on the changes in consumer behaviour and come out on top, businesses need to focus on adding true value and improving the overall experience for customers. Instilling the right blend of flexibility, convenience and customisation for those using a product or service could help your business boost profitability further down the line.

Debbie CliffordDebbie CliffordSeptember 11, 2020


Recent reports show that the blended workplace is very much a reality. Nearly 1 in 5 UK workers plan to work from home indefinitely, half expect to go into the office every day, and two thirds of Londoners plan to divide their time between the office and home.

While flexible working is well reported to increase productivity by as much as over 10 percent in some cases, today’s hybrid world has taken flexible working to a new level with scope to elevate staff engagement and motivation further still, which will have an even greater positive impact on customer service.

To reap the rewards of this exciting workplace of the future, managers do need to rip up the old rulebook and consider new ways of managing a collaborative, engaged team that is now more dispersed.

Don’t be ‘On Demand’

Start first by looking at your self-management and wellbeing. Working remotely can mean the chance to be more productive but only when managed correctly. Virtual leaders can easily fall into the trap of becoming the ‘on demand’ manager, as employees assume that outside of the normal day to day office distractions, managers are more easily and readily available.

Gone are the visual cues of the office that gauge when to hold off from approaching your manager – like head down at the desk, on a call, or having just finished a long meeting.

It’s too easy in the virtual world to think you have to join every Teams meeting, reply to every email and answer every call, which ends up being unproductive and can make you lose focus of your own leadership goals.

Instead, use the benefits of being virtual without the office distractions. Control how responsive you are to your team. Book space in your diary to focus on your own tasks, goals and demands, and when teams know you can’t be disturbed. Allocate time to reflect and think, and to coach individuals.

Your team will soon realise that you don’t need to be involved in every minute customer service problem and teaches them good virtual working habits. It shows trust in your team to handle matters while giving them greater responsibility and authority to make decisions. This in turn boosts morale and leaves you to handle the more complex and strategic activities.

Accountable culture

Fostering a culture of trust is essential to delivering excellent customer service in a virtual world. A place where employees are given the autonomy and authority to make key decisions wherever they’re working and without manger input. Where employees are accountable for their decisions without feeling like they’ll be chastised if they make the odd mistake, but rather learn from it. Where employees are responsible for where, how and when they work in order to get the best results for the business.

This all leads to not only a more engaged workforce but one that has the flexibility and freedom to resolve customer enquiries quickly and effectively.

At Olive, when faced with a challenge, our Operations Leaders will regularly come together in a self-facilitating coaching session to share experiences, assess results and ways customer service could be improved. This learning and innovation culture requires trust and respect to succeed; a culture where leaders can confidentially share mistakes or acknowledge where things could be done better to refine our service delivery which at the same time draws out innovation and ideas from people whether working remotely or not.

Measuring productivity

There are also measures you can put in place to see how well your blended workplace is performing. Team productivity can be assessed through objective led measures, such as how professionally were customers enquiries handled, virtual or not? How slick are company processes such as the time it takes to refund payments? And what are the overall service levels like – from customer holding times to time needed to resolve a query?

Is your technology suite supporting a better connected blended workplace? How agile and effective is your customer service platform to support customer and employee regardless of location or device? Are you able to use chatbots to resolve some of the more commonly asked questions to relieve employee time?

One front line person isn’t the only customer touch point. Sales, finance, and technical experts, will also be customer points of contact so check your technology effortlessly bridges these teams through secure access to share customer data and conversation threads so your teams can collaborate swiftly to seamlessly resolve customer queries from anywhere, any time.

Return to the office

When employees are asked to come into the office for any reasons, ensure you keep communicating and reassuring them. Be mindful that some will be nervous about coming into contact with colleagues for fear of Covid-19.

Be clear on the new office Covid safety measures and workplace policies. Something we did at Olive was to introduce a ‘Back To Work’ plan including health & safety videos to show staff the changes in place, required temperature checks and sanitisation on arrival, and a ‘Welcome Back’ pack to make employees feel comfortable and safe. For those with heightened anxiety or stress concerning Covid-19 offer a counselling service if possible.

The blended workplace is the future workplace but it will take time for some employees to adjust. With the right support, management leading by example, and secure communications technology infrastructure in place, businesses and their customers can reap the rewards fairly swiftly.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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