A recent study by the Institute of Customer Service found that customer satisfaction with companies in the UK has declined in recent years. In 2021 and 2022, customer satisfaction with complaint handling showed a steady improvement but this has now stalled. The study found that the areas of customer satisfaction that are most predictive of business performance, such as emotional connection, customer ethos, and ethics, have also declined.
There are a number of reasons for this decline in customer satisfaction. One reason is the cost-of-living crisis, which has led people to be more careful about their spending. This has made customers more likely to shop around for the best deals and less likely to make impulse purchases. Another reason for the decline in customer satisfaction is the rise of online shopping. Online customers have come to expect a high level of customer service, and they are more likely to switch to a different company if they are not satisfied with their experience.
ICS chief executive Joanna Causon comments, ”We are seeing a greater polarisation in customer satisfaction performance, with some companies pulling away from the pack and others alas falling considerably behind. Overall, this is not good for the UK’s standing and we need to address this decline to ensure we can really transform our trading position as a country as well as lift the spirits of customers and employees alike.”
She adds “We know customer attitudes and behaviours have changed in the last six months and will continue to evolve: not only are people thinking more carefully about spending due to the cost-of living crisis, but reducing their level of spending, shopping around more to find the best deals, and making fewer impulse or large purchases; there are longer term changes in behaviour that embody trends towards more mindful consumption and environmental sustainability.”
Despite the decline in customer satisfaction, there are still ways to improve it. Here are a few tips:
- Recognise that people buy from people. When customers call your business, make sure they are greeted by a real person who takes the time to understand their needs.
- See it through. Make sure all calls and enquiries are followed up promptly. Nothing upsets customers more than being ignored.
- Make your shop window transact. If your website is the way that customers find you, make sure it is easy to use and that enquiries are handled promptly.
- Embrace live chat. Live chat is a great way to provide instant customer service. If you don’t offer live chat, consider adding it to your website.
Some additional tips for improving customer satisfaction:
- Be responsive. Customers expect quick and efficient responses to their inquiries.
- Be helpful. Go the extra mile to help customers solve their problems.
- Be honest. If you can’t solve a customer’s problem, be honest with them about it.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for customers to complain before you take action.
- Be grateful. Thank customers for their business and let them know that you appreciate their feedback.
Keeping customers happy and getting them to remain loyal is now essential. Happy and successful customers are the lifeblood of any business and so by following some of these tips, you can create a positive customer experience that will keep customers coming back for more.