I’ve lost count of the number of times the phrase ‘rising customer expectations’ is the basis for presentations over the last couple of decades. It’s a kind of given, following the logic that as technology and science gallops forward, coupled with our increased experience listening to customer feedback, then customer service must automatically improve? 

It’s of course a bit more complicated, and indeed I’d argue that in fact expectations have fallen over the last few years in response to disrupted labour markets, sub-optimal application of technology and importantly a lack of understanding about increased complexity at the customer interface.

I’m struck by the passion for improvement in the CCA network, voiced repeatedly in numerous forums and evidenced by our top-ranking accredited organisations and award winners. But I’m also struck by a frank assessment of the challenges faced by so many organisations; a severe scarcity of experienced professionals willing to do these critical roles, exacerbated by premature exit of experienced senior management, resulting in a loss of critical corporate intelligence and vital, ‘invisible’ bonds that provide cohesion across the organisation.

Digging a little deeper, a huge issue is the latent fear and anxiety in our population, seeking reassurance certainly, solutions and even sometimes just a listening ear. Often this manifests as anger and frustration exacerbated hugely by delays in getting through in the first place, and unconnected services when you do.

Most organisations understand this and support their workforce, but it’s difficult to recruit, train and retain individuals to have broad enough shoulders to explain the inexplicable and defend what can seem indefensible (think energy companies). 

Of course, call volumes could plummet, and friction would be largely eliminated if organisations sorted issues effectively further back in the customer’s journey - that is self-evident and is a fundamental principle of the CCA Global Accreditation for Customer Experience©

External factors are interesting in considering the broader mood of the consumer: the UK has slipped in the global happiness index which has been compiled by a group of international economists for the last 10 years. For the 4th year in a row we have declined, this time to 19th place, behind Denmark, Germany, Finland, USA, and Czech Republic. It’s a useful indicator worthy of investigation; it informs the base which frames everyday interactions.

Leaving aside the dreaded productivity issue (for another blog!) think how the many millions of interactions each day make consumers feel much better, or in fact raging and set for a lousy day due to bad service; this is the reality of the responsibility for us all. 

On the plus side, I’m always hugely heartened by the dedication, innovation and leadership shown across the many businesses in the CCA customer network. Just this week we held the CCA CEO Industry Council in London hosted by Capita where we explored many of the issues above, and many more! As a forum that’s been established for almost 20 years, it has driven and inspired countless positive changes across our marketplace, through good times and bad; and always at its heart is the drive to do better both for customers and for those that talk to customers every day. 

The desire to share and collaborate openly and honestly to promote personal growth, but also to see others succeed, is something that makes us all very proud, and we are privileged to work with so many inspiring and passionate professionals in our industry.

Have a wonderful weekend!