Customer service: customer and business views - Business Works
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Customer service: customer and business views

Jonathan Chevallier, Strategic Development Director, Cognito new 360 degree view of customer service in the UK has recently been launched by Cognito. It is the company's first Annual Nationwide Service Report and is the result of research conducted over the past year across 5000 businesses and consumers. The research explored a variety of themes including employee engagement, the financial value of good service, the cost of poor service and the uptake of mobile solutions. It provides insight into the current state of service in the UK and summarises the research, including some predictions for the next twelve months in service management from key industry representatives and consultants.

"Over the past year we have examined the state of service in great depth, providing us with improved understanding into the service challenges faced by our customers and therefore insight into theirs," said Jonathan Chevallier, Strategic Development Director at Cognito. "Some of the key issues which have emerged highlight how businesses can make immediate improvements to impact the bottom line and improve competitiveness. We urge the industry to keep service at the forefront of business strategy and make it a boardroom issue over the next months and years. This report aims to provide them with an understanding of some of the key issues and current perceptions as told by the customers and clients themselves."

It is clear that technology, specifically mobile technology, has been a major factor in improving service. Despite this, there are still some issues around speed of adoption, with more room for businesses to engage and lead the workforce from the outset of project implementation.

Customer service as an issue has been elevated to the boardroom with a strong level of awareness of this as a key business topic. There are some clear financial imperatives to investing in service and the impact of a bad customer service experience is now a much greater threat to company reputation, with the advent of social media accelerating visible opinions and company feedback.

Additionally, the focus this year for businesses improving service has been on engagement with employees. With frontline staff interaction being cited as a major cause for bad service, companies are focusing on improving engagement with employees throughout the organisation.

How consumers feel about service

Throughout 2012, feedback from consumers has suggested that improvements to customer service over the past few years have been at best only slight, with the recession having a negative impact on investment in this area. The majority of consumers actually felt there had been some deterioration in service or it had remained the same.

In collaboration with YouGov, we first examined the attitudes of UK homeowners, with regards to services provided by consumer-facing organisations:

  • 67% of UK consumers believe service has deteriorated or stayed the same across the last three years
  • 22% of UK consumers believe customer service has improved a little over the past three years
  • 3% of UK consumers believe customer service has improved a lot

How businesses feel about service

On the other hand, businesses are more optimistic about service levels, with the majority citing improvement over the last period. However, almost half of organisations report that they are still unable accurately to calculate the financial case for investment in service.

Our research into how consumers feel about service made us question 'how do businesses perceive the state of service and which organisations do they look to for influence?':

  • Businesses that aspire to offer best practice service look to Virgin for inspiration (9%), closely followed by Apple (7%) and Amazon (4%)
  • 78% of businesses believe more than half of their mobile workforce is motivated and have bought into the idea of service excellence
  • 49% of businesses cannot accurately calculate the return on investment made in customer service
  • 64% of organisations think business service has improved over the past 5 10 years
  • 35% of businesses feel technology is the single most influential factor positively affecting service in the last 5 10 years

The report is available for download here [PDF], where organisations or businesses can also add their own comments or ideas for further research. For more information about Cognito, please visit:

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