Customer communications: an opportunity to bolster satisfaction levels
The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index has been published, providing a barometer to track customer sentiment across sectors and pinpointing consumer priorities when it comes to dealing with businesses. Its findings provide a wealth of insight for those looking to differentiate through service, with customer communications at the forefront of many areas that make a tangible difference to customer relationships.
Interaction drives satisfaction
Customer priorities are ranked in the Index, helping to identify the part that individual elements play in enhancing satisfaction. Some of the core elements of a good customer communications strategy featured high in the list of 41 priorities, particularly the ability to interact with providers and the ease of dealing with an organisation. Clearly explained information was also crucial, demonstrating the importance of clarity to customers.
The index has tracked customer satisfaction since 2008 and in its latest report has noted that emotional connections and relationships contribute significantly to satisfaction levels – both were rated as higher influences than how organisations respond to and resolve problems or complaints.
The extent to which an organisation ‘makes life easier’ and designs its experience around customer needs were both found to have a high correlation with satisfaction. Effective communication can have a strong influence on these factors, demonstrating an opportunity to delight customers and differentiate by building better customer experiences.
Company ethics were also high on the consumer radar, from reputation to the extent to which organisations are deemed to ‘do the right thing’. This increased scrutiny of organisations’ corporate behaviour also extends to the way they collect, use and store customers’ personal data. The rise in corporate data breaches and tighter GDPR controls have contributed to this, making it essential that every organisation has watertight governance around data.
Build trust through better customer experiences
The UK Customer Service Institute makes a number of recommendations in which organisations can proactively engage and communicate with customers in order to build trust, from engaging proactively with consumers when designing services to a persistent focus on getting things right for customers first time.
Many of their recommendations lie at the heart of a successful customer communications strategy, such as:
- Ensure that there is consistency between the tone and content of brand communications and the quality of customer experience;
- Develop plans to react quickly in crisis situations to provide customers with relevant information, advice and reassurance.
Better use of data
- Deploy customer data and insight in a way that enhances personalisation and relevance;
- Ensure artificial intelligence is deployed to improve customer experiences, not just to drive efficiencies.
Consistently good experiences
- Identify ways to reduce customer effort proactively;
- Enable consistency of channels and understand causes of variation in customer experience across channels.
Unlock the opportunity of customer correspondence
The UKCSI findings correlate closely to Opus Trust’s own research into the way that consumers prefer to receive correspondence and communicate with suppliers.
One of the main takeaways from the Hidden Opportunity research was that customers each have individual preferences and organisations must offer a choice of channels to enable them to customise their communications. This choice is evidence of a company building itself around a customers’ needs and ensuring they receive clear information in a format and channel that suits them best.
The value placed on functional communications also confirms its importance in building the relationships that are vital to a strong customer satisfaction score. Our research confirmed that account-related communication was less disposable: 80% of consumers file away at least one type of communication and 60% expect suppliers to keep copies of documents online to be accessed easily.
The use of artificial intelligence to enhance customer experience is also pertinent when considering the rise of chat bots – our research found a third of consumers expect to use online chat bots and live chat functions as the primary way to communicate with suppliers within the next five years. Companies that use their insight and AI to create personalised customer journeys and intelligent communications tools to create a better customer experience look set to enjoy a competitive advantage in future – for example, the UKCSI findings confirmed that in the banking sector, those firms with a higher than average satisfaction score also recorded greater net customer account gains than those with lower scores.
The more that pioneering companies invest in their customer experience and take advantage of the options presented by new technology, the more customer expectations will shift and impact reputation and satisfaction. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to delight and demonstrate a commitment to the customer, so acting now to focus on how communications can contribute to building relationships and engendering trust with customers is vital.
To find out how we can help your organisation differentiate through effective communication, get in touch today.
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