Customer service is a key differentiator for businesses

Customer service is a key differentiator for businesses, but many are falling short in providing satisfaction to customers, report finds.

Customer service is a key differentiator for UK businesses. Brand reputation, competitiveness and position within the market are highly influenced by a company’s ability to provide good customer service.

However, despite its importance, research from Anaplan, a leading platform provider driving a new age of connected planning, reveals that UK businesses are failing to deliver good customer service and are missing out on lucrative opportunities to increase profits.

Related: Jon Lucas on how to improve your customer service

Customer service ratings are falling dramatically short across the board – just one quarter (26 per cent) of airline or travel company customers think that they provide a good customer service. Banks lead the way with 56 per cent, but just over half of customers is still far too low.

Other sectors continue to lag behind with utilities (34 per cent), mobile phone operators (35 per cent), and retailers (39 per cent) all falling short of an acceptable level of service. With customers’ top priorities for improving this experience including more people staffing call centres at peak times (51 per cent), better understanding of my contact history (33 per cent), and better sharing of my information between departments (30 per cent), businesses across every sector need to perform far better when it comes to planning the customer experience in their contact centres.

Karen Clarke, Anaplan regional vice president, Northern Europe, comments, ‘The contact centre remains a key channel for customer communication, whether this is over the phone or increasingly, through digital interactions. Failings here play a major role in shaping the overall customer experience.

‘With the technology available to help businesses adopt a more connected approach to contact centre planning, there is no need for organisations to be failing to provide even the most basic areas of customer service, frustrating customers in the process. To avoid losing customers and damaging brand reputation, this should be a key area of focus for UK businesses.

‘With the latest technology, organisations can connect every aspect of their contact centre operations in one tool; from marketing-generated campaigns and sales targets, through to financial planning, sales validation of numbers, and ultimately resource allocation for capacity and demand planning. By doing this, contact centre managers can replace error-prone and inefficient spreadsheets with a clear, accurate and collaborative planning process to run their business.

‘For example, this connected approach allows rapid forecasting so that businesses know exactly what resources are required for different scenarios, ensuring the right numbers of staff are in the right place at the right time to serve customers’ needs. Our research reveals that this is a top priority for customers and connected planning can enable contact centres to become a point of competitive differentiation; not a potential liability.’

The research also shows that UK businesses can stand to gain from a major potential financial opportunity as well. Consumers reveal that they are willing to spend more with organisations that provide a better connected and planned service. 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, followed by 35 per cent for retailers, and 27 per cent for a utility company.

Clarke concludes, ‘Customer expectations are growing and this research reveals that consumers will pay more for good service. With the latest connected planning technology businesses can join up the planning process and simultaneously drive valuable improvements in headcount efficiency, business agility and deliver vastly improved customer service.’

Further reading on customer service

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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