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Cisco Measures U.K. Customer Service Performance

February 11, 2009

“The Customer is King” is a classic saying that has been used in a variety of industries to make a point about customer service. This mantra has also been repeated in a number of different situations, especially cheesy advertising. But, the premise is simple: To protect the customer base, make the customer feel like a king, or queen if the description fits.
The contact center is put in place to focus on delivering just this type of service and Cisco (News - Alert) set out to determine just which companies throughout the United Kingdom have been successful in protecting their customer base.

In the Customer Kings 2009 Report, Cisco polled 1,000 companies in January 2009. Interviews were completed with senior decision makers in U.K. businesses between five and 1,000 employees across a range of sectors.

In this process, Cisco found that 57 percent of respondents have introduced new measures in the last 12 months to help build and retain customer relationships. At the same time, only 39 percent report that Britain as a whole is getting better at customer service.  

Cisco also discovered that 61 percent of companies believe that their approach to customer service should be improved with more time and resource to focus on quality and insight. Another 52 percent of SMEs anticipate that customers will see price as more important than quality of service in the economic downtown.

As companies are struggling to succeed in this down economy, increased pressure is being put on the contact center to improve the focus on quality service. However, 42 percent report that the downturn is moving the focus away from acquiring new customers with their existing ones. Another 41 percent reported that they are unsure as to which area to place their focus.

With a change in strategy, many contact centers are examining their approach to customer service and many are taking a more personal touch. In fact, 88 percent believe that this personal touch is essential to successful business.

Another 76 percent believe the personal touch is the best created by the attitude of staff and 46 percent argue that miserable employees should be removed from the organization to safeguard customer service.

“Customer Kings was commissioned to investigate how small businesses are approaching one of the few things that they are able to control in a downturn – their customer service,” Bernadette Wightman, head of Small Medium Enterprise at Cisco UK and Ireland.

“The findings make it clear that now, more than ever, UK SMEs are devoting time, money and effort to improving their customer relationships, though it is also evident that specific attention is needed to ensure that this resource is not wasted.”

“We can see a fascinating divide between those small businesses that are embracing technology, and use it as the core of building customer relationships, and those that shun it in favour of an absolute personal touch. It is important the businesses achieve a happy balance between the two, a mix of traditional values and technology that can help them do business smarter,” added Wightman.

To help reverse the negative trends within the contact centers of these organizations, Cisco recommends a re-focus on strategies. For instance, these companies need to determine how best to allocate resources for both nurturing current customers and gaining new ones and resist one for the other.

Companies should also be specific in learning about their customers. At the same time, staff motivation should also be prioritized. By capitalizing on technology, companies can gain greater flexibility, simplicity and productivity. While serving the customer base, the company must ensure that its time and resources are allocated appropriately.

To optimize performance in this current market, some companies and their contact centers will have to make some specific changes to protect the customer base and continue to grow opportunities. The important element will be to be careful not to cut critical aspects of the customer service channel in the haste to reduce cost.
 

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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