Customer service is a key differentiator for businesses, but many are falling short

Customer service is a key differentiator for UK businesses. Brand reputation, competitiveness and position within the market are highly influenced by a company's ability to provide good customer service.

However, despite its importance, research from Anaplan, the platform provider driving a new age of connected planning, reveals that UK businesses are failing to deliver good customer service and are missing out on lucrative opportunities to increase profits.

Customer service ratings are falling dramatically short across the board – just one quarter (26%) of airline or travel company customers think that they provide a good customer service. Banks lead the way with 56%, but just over half of customers is still far too low. Other sectors continue to lag behind with utilities (34%), mobile phone operators (35%), and retailers (39%) all falling short of an acceptable level of service.

With customers' top priorities for improving this experience including more people staffing call centres at peak times (51%), better understanding of my contact history (33%), and better sharing of my information between departments (30%), businesses across every sector need to perform far better when it comes to planning the customer experience in their contact centres.

Karen Clarke, Anaplan Regional Vice President, Northern Europe, comments, "The contact centre remains a key channel for customer communication, whether this is over the phone or increasingly, through digital interactions. Failings here play a major role in shaping the overall customer experience.

With the technology available to help businesses adopt a more connected approach to contact centre planning, there is no need for organisations to be failing to provide even the most basic areas of customer service, frustrating customers in the process. To avoid losing customers and damaging brand reputation, this should be a key area of focus for UK businesses."

"With the latest technology, organisations can connect every aspect of their contact centre operations in one tool; from marketing-generated campaigns and sales targets, through to financial planning, sales validation of numbers, and ultimately resource allocation for capacity and demand planning. By doing this, contact centre managers can replace error-prone and inefficient spreadsheets with a clear, accurate and collaborative planning process to run their business.

For example, this connected approach allows rapid forecasting so that businesses know exactly what resources are required for different scenarios, ensuring the right numbers of staff are in the right place at the right time to serve customers' needs. Our research reveals that this is a top priority for customers and connected planning can enable contact centres to become a point of competitive differentiation; not a potential liability."

The research also showed that UK businesses can stand to gain from a major potential financial opportunity as well. Consumers revealed that they are willing to spend more with organisations that provide a better connected and planned service. For example, 38% of consumers would be inclined to spend more money with an airline or travel company had they felt that their experience had been better planned, followed by 35% for retailers, and 27% for a utility company.

Clarke concluded, "Customer expectations are growing and this research reveals that consumers will pay more for good service. With the latest connected planning technology businesses can join up the planning process and simultaneously drive valuable improvements in headcount efficiency, business agility and deliver vastly improved customer service."

This research was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Anaplan. Between 4th and 7th April 2017, 2,009 UK consumers were surveyed.

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