The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) was published last month and it makes for interesting reading. It reports that overall customer satisfaction in the UK - particularly in non-food retail - has seen the longest period of decline since records began.
It’s damming evidence but not surprising I suppose. As customers, we’ve become more diverse, demanding and polarised in our attitudes. Online and mobile technologies have transformed the ways in which we consume and interact with retailers and brands. And the tough economic climate has forced many retailers to focus on cost savings rather than investment.
But what’s important about this latest UKCSI report is that it distils a decade of research to prove that consistently high customer satisfaction ratings return higher revenue growth, EBITDA and revenue per employee.
So how should the UK retail sector respond to these findings?
Only last week, the CEO of Pets at Home - speaking at the Omnichannel Futures Conference 2020 - said “…the time for high street stores simply shifting SKUs is over. There will always be someone able to do it faster, cheaper and more conveniently online.” For Pets at Home, the answer lay in reconnecting with what their customers really wanted and needed, and that was making pet care rewarding, enjoyable and convenient.
In our weblog we frequently post articles about our own clients and other retailers who have achieved success when they refocused their businesses on their customers’ needs. Indeed, our November post talks about getting back to basics and links to a great report by trend analysts Trendwatching.com on the importance of ‘meaning’ and brand ‘back stories’ in retail customer engagement.
Interestingly, the UKCSI report highlights some common descriptors for organisations with the highest customer satisfaction performance:
· They design experiences around their customers’ needs.
· They combine technology and people to create experiences that work and feel personal.
· They are authentic and use customer services to build understanding and better relationships.
· They are clear about their purpose, relevance and the impact they create.
This list is a gift to struggling retailers and brand owners because it points to a proven strategic pathway to help business planning.
In retail design terms, this list very closely describes the building blocks we use with our own retail clients to identify the heart of their businesses and optimise the retail experience for their customers.
So we are joining the UKCSI Chief Executive in calling for an end to boring customer experiences that feel mundane or mediocre. It’s time to refocus and innovate. In the words of the UKCSI report “We have all to play for and so much to gain”.