4 British business sectors that smash customer experience

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Business consultants Walker believe that by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

And although tech can be harnessed towards improving customer service, it must be complemented by fostering customer-centric cultures internally and externally.

But some organisations are hitting the nail on the head — here are four British business sectors that smash customer experience.

Personal banking

Virgin Money’s Voice of Customer programme was developed to gather substantive data on the customer journey in order to identify points for improvement.

Information is gathered from extensive product feedback surveys, mystery shoppers and social media.

This rich data is analysed to identifying customers with high levels of satisfaction and retention — allowing Virgin to set a benchmark for excellence.

The information is then cascaded throughout the organisation so that all employees can have access and input to making improvements.

This process is repeated cyclically over a 90-day period and in the first phases of implementation customer satisfaction was raised to an impressive 95 per cent.

This approach proves that listening keenly to customers’ needs and addressing them swiftly can be the shortest route to success.

Retail

John Lewis has consistently remained close to the top of UK customer service rankings for several years.

The nationwide department store chain sells everything from women’s fashion to sports equipment.

They’ve even launched a home solutions service that connects customers with trusted local tradespeople like plumbers, electricians and decorators.

Their new Oxford store employs a brand experience manager as well as a concierge — and staff were sent to drama school prior to opening to boost their confidence.

The John Lewis product range isn’t vastly different from competitors, but their innovative approach to customer service sets them apart.

The business is also an employee-owned partnership — so employees have a genuine incentive to go the extra mile, whatever role they perform.

Contact centres

For many large firms, contact centres are the frontline of customer service.

Dealing with customers’ queries and complaints is challenging work but it can reveal valuable insights and bring excellent rewards.

Sky TV’s contact centre in Cardiff is operated in collaboration with Firstsource Solutions and it’s won a series of customer-centric awards recently.

The call centre taps into a pool of local talent and uses thorough training to hone the skills of new starts before they interact with the public.

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The partnership currently employs 1500 people across Cardiff and is set to employ a further 1200 over the next 10 years.

Firstsource operates in India, the Philippines and the US as well as the UK and has garnered global plaudits for customer experience excellence.

This partnership proves that quality training and a supportive working environment can help staff deliver great results in some of the most challenging roles.

Energy

Incessant household energy bill hikes have made major UK energy firms unpopular with customers and politicians alike in recent years.

But Octopus Energy’s Octopus Tracker is the first tariff to update customers’ energy price each day based on the wholesale price of energy.

Because markets can be volatile, a tracker tariff represents a gamble for customers.

But the associated app allows them to closely monitor their daily spend and compare it to the industry average for variable tariffs.

This refreshing level of transparency empowers customers in a sector where they’ve often felt completely at the mercy of larger operators.

These four British business sectors that smash customer experience are paving the way for a new breed of company that always puts customer satisfaction at the heart of their operations.

What UK company offers the best customer experience? Share your tips in the comments section.</e

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