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Customer Service Trends for 2012

Margin pressure has impacted on business strategy, staff training, marketing spend, staff retention and many other elements in business including customer service.

A new 2012 global report by BDO Australia has warned businesses which fail to embrace eight customer service “megatrends” during the next decade that they will lose out to their competitors. Some of the trends identified in the report include:

Global competition will drive up service standards

In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, with new emerging market rivals expanding rapidly, customer service will be used by a large number of firms as a competitive differentiator. It would be incorrect not to consider price as a large factor, however, “Price is a very important factor but once [our customers] like the price, we want them to be happy with our service, so that they don’t move for half a pence cheaper” says Ratheesan Yoganathan, CEO of Lebara a European low-cost mobile operator. To avoid being caught in the race of who can provide the lowest priced product, service will be used to stand out.

Companies must maintain service standards in the face of ‘the need for speed’

Speed has become a competitive differentiator in business today. Companies that are able to help their customers save time will stand out from their rivals. “Our customers are busy people, and time is the new luxury” explains Mark Sebba, CEO of Net-a-Porter. Shorter queues, quicker deliveries and faster transactions are things all companies are striving for.

Good employees will remain fundamental to good service but with technology as an enabler

Beyond the automation of handling simple enquiries, allowing employees to focus on more complex problems, the use of technology is likely to become more relevant. For example, customers may like checking in online, but still want a personal approach while waiting in the lounge. The challenge is to identify where the customer will be happy to interact with technology and where they still expect the human touch.

More firms will outsource aspects of customer service to new kinds of specialists

Today 87% of firms take care of their service in house. In the next decade, specialist outsourced customer service providers are likely to be in demand. According to the report, nearly 4 in 10 firms plan to outsource their service needs to an external partner who specialise in customer service so they can focus on other business issues.

Having these customer service trends in mind, what steps have you taken or plan to take to address the issue of your customer service so that you don’t fall behind the competition? Be proactive in maintaining your service standards because in this economy, every customer counts!

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