Opinion: It's time to re-reset service delivery for excellence
Consumers are getting tired of services gaps – we all want to be kind, but customers are once again expecting better.
Within our world of Customer Experience (CX) measurement, it is a given that customer satisfaction is intrinsically linked to the customer’s needs being met and that customer delight is intrinsically linked to the customer’s needs or expectations being exceeded. Memorable moments are created when the customer is surprised or delighted by the service interaction, when they feel they are getting great value for money.
However, over the last two years, consumers have become increasingly used to service providers citing issues outside of their direct control (Brexit, supply chain, staff shortages, covid-19 restrictions) as reasons why the customers’ needs have not been (fully) met. We have for the most part been understanding of this and taken heed of regular reminders to show kindness to others, but through our experience on the ground, findings from ABa teams, and discussions with clients across different industry sectors, we are hearing one clear and ringing message: all that patience is wearing thin. We are becoming tired of hearing the same reasons (and at times, what feels like excuses) for our needs or expectations not being met.
Of course, we have become accepting of disappointment – cancelled events, rescheduled bookings, depleted stock levels and a reduced service offering. Our expectations of service have been reset – we hope our needs will be met rather than automatically assume this to be the case, and we have become delighted by a simple and straightforward experience rather than needing a ‘wow’ factor.
For service providers, this should be good news. Consumers should be easier to deal with as our base level expectation seems to be lower than pre-pandemic. Yet, in reality, we have an environment where we now have an ‘instant trigger’, an immediate point of frustration that can break a customer relationship. Consumer frustration is growing, with customers less willing to accept the ‘same old excuses’ as a valid reason why their needs and/or expectations are not met.
How can organisations respond and re-reset?
Organisations need to be ‘out in front’ and ensure their customers are made aware of delays, shortages or reduced service levels, rather than reacting to a known problem only once the customer has been inconvenienced. In short, our expectations need to be effectively managed, and proactive, accurate communication is a key component of this.
Just as the ‘WFH’ model has become a society norm, we now expect service providers to offer greater flexibility and understanding than ever before. For all of us who have tolerated the ‘less than perfect pandemic CX’, there must be a quid pro quo. Rigid consumer policies that cannot be flexed to react to individual customer requirements will generate increasing levels of bad will amongst an organisation’s customer base.
In our client discussions, we are working with service providers to push this thinking to the next level. To see, in other words, who can offer the greatest flexibility and empathy, to take the ‘heat’ out of any shortfalls in service levels through effective management of customer expectations and find creative ways to make sure individual customer needs are met, as these will be the organisations that will thrive.
How can we all reshape experiences? And how are you trying to refocus yours for 2022?
To find out more about our expertise in CX measurement programmes that deliver a better customer experience, please get in touch with ABa via the details below.
Danielle Sones Experience Director firstname.lastname@example.org / 0161 431 1221