Your future is in your hands

Your future is in your hands

Back in mid-January, BDO released a report, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which looked into the impact of poor customer service on businesses worldwide.

The report, which surveyed more than 800 senior business leaders from around the world found that:

  • Nearly sixty percent of all firms admitted that customer service failings had had a clear and significant impact on financial performance
  • Some (15%) even went on to admit that customer service failings had hit their share price.
  • However, despite this, the report also found that more than a quarter of all firms admitted to having not invested in their customer service capabilities in the last 2 years.

When I read this I was a little confused and frustrated. Personally, I think that contact centres and customer service departments do one of the most important jobs in any organisation and it annoys me when I see data like this.

But, according to the survey, it seems that customer service issues are further down the pecking order than employee and other internal issues in nine out of ten organisations. This is despite the fact that 84% of the business leaders that were surveyed believing that customer service is ‘very’ or ‘moderately’ important to their financial performance.

As I dug a little deeper into the report, I found a couple of reasons why customer service is not getting the attention that, I believe, it merits. Those reasons are that:

  • Just over a third of all businesses surveyed don’t have a strategy linking service to financial performance; and
  • Only twenty eight percent of firms surveyed have a customer service representative on the board.

So, what to do to change the situation?

In the report, Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service, advocates that “A genuinely aligned, joined-up organisation sees customer service as a key part of its strategy and integral for every aspect of the business.”

I agree with that. But, I’d like to see people in contact centres and customer service taking a more active role.

I mean, you may not be able to do much about getting representation on the board in the short-run. However, being at the heart of a business’ contact with it’s customers, I believe that you could take on the responsibility of developing the business strategy linking service to financial performance.

If you want more investment and for the business to recognise the important role you play in the overall business then you have two choices: One, wait for things to change; or Two, make something happen. If your board is not making the link between service and financial performance. Then, figure how to make the link for them.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Margaret Mead, a noted American cultural anthropologist and author in the 1960’s and 70’s, who said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”





This post was originally published in the February 2014 edition of the Customer Experience Magazine.
Photo Credit: moophisto via Compfight cc

7 comments On Your future is in your hands

  • Adrian,

    I’ve recently been talking a lot about building the business case with executives, but you take it to a different level, taking it to the board. If only… 🙂

    Annette 🙂

  • Adrian,

    Customers pay for things
    No customers no business
    When things go wrong customers phone customer service
    If they don’t get satisfaction they vote with their feet
    Why would you not listen to your customer service department?


    • That’s an interesting question, James.

      Yet the data suggests that firms frequently do. I wonder why? ……..They don’t care and customer service is still thought of as a cost and added as an after-thought (that they’d rather not have)?


  • Hello Adrian,

    Leave aside the rhetoric and what do you find? Customer Services is a cost-centre and the focus is on minimising operational costs in this function. The people in Customer Service – the agents are likely to be on/near the minimum wage: the modern day factory workers. And even then the focus is on replacing them with even cheaper labour: automated systems and self-service systems.

    Few get the value of great customer service. Which is fine: they have the opportunity to differentiate themselves.


    • Maz,
      That may be the case.

      However, do you believe that once a cost centre always a cost centre? I think we all have the ability to try and change our own and the perspective of others.


  • Pingback: Should 'Net Easy' be your new customer service metric | Adrian Swinscoe ()

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