New government group dedicated to customer service
A number of MPs chaired by Philip Davies MP and Steve Reed MP have formed an All Party Parliamentary Group on Customer Service and appointed the Institute of Customer Service as a Secretariat to the group.
The new group aims to raise awareness and understanding of customer service amongst parliamentarians and establish a dialogue with UK organisations across all sectors. Members will debate the impact of customer service on economic growth and business performance, improving the quality of public services for citizens, business performance and developing employability through customer service skills training.
Over 70% of the working population perform roles that involve dealing directly with customers. The service sector generates around 78% of UK GDP and services are an increasingly important source of revenues for manufacturers. Quality and competence in customer service therefore has a significant impact on the UK’s competitiveness and quality of public services.
Customer expectations have risen. They are better informed, often have greater choice, are less tolerant of organisations that fail to meet their expectations and can use a variety of communication channels to express their opinions about organisations. There is a growing recognition of the links between customer service and organisations’ sustainable business performance.
Philip Davies, MP said: “If we want UK businesses to succeed, there is a need to equip the next generation with the right customer service skills. I believe that the time is right for an APPG on Customer Service as good customer service, employee engagement and trained staff are essential for UK competitiveness.”
During its first meeting, the group elected its officers and discussed the main focus and objectives of the group.
Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service presented the latest results from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the national measure of customer satisfaction published bi-annually by the Institute . The UKCSI is based on a sample of almost 10,000 customers and reflects the current state of customer satisfaction in the UK across 13 sectors.
The July 2014 UKCSI revealed that customer satisfaction has fallen over the last year, from 77.9 (July 2013) to 76.3 (July 2014) – and is at its lowest point since 2011. This indicates that UK organisations as a whole – including local and national level public sector organisations – have not kept up with customer expectations during the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014.
Steve Reed, MP said: “High standards of customer service are critical in public services and private businesses. There’s less money around and, as a result, more pressure to do better for less. A key way to make that happen is to focus on what customers really need and then do that.”
UKCSI scores are important indicators of the health of the UK economy, as the evidence from the Institute demonstrates a clear correlation between financial performance, customer recommendation, trust and a focus on customer service.
Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service said: “ The Institute’s research shows where organisations deliver good customer experience they focus on being easy to do business with, resolving customer problems promptly, delivering on promises made and training staff to ensure they are able to cope with a large range of customer issues.
The challenge as the economy moves into growth is for organisations to stay focused on service as a key differentiator for long term business success and not be seduced into focusing purely on the short term objectives. We are delighted that the Institute was asked to support the All – Party Group on Customer Service and look forward to working together with the members.”